Huddersfield Town finally appear to be on the cusp of a transfer breakthrough for Rolando Aarons. It’s a few months late, but it is a deal that Carlos Corberan will be pleased to see reaching a conclusion in the opening week of the window.
Aarons should have been a summer signing at the John Smith’s Stadium. His deal agonisingly fell on the wrong side of the deadline and Corberan has been juggling a fairly thin squad since then.
It’s become more of a problem in the last couple of months, though, as injuries pinch for Corberan and the hectic schedule of the Championship tests Huddersfield’s strength in depth.
Josh Koroma was in electric form for the Terriers in the opening months of the season. The 22-year-old struck six goals and registered two assists in 16 appearances, with his partnership with Harry Toffolo on the left pulling even the best of the Championship out of their comfort zone.
A hamstring injury in the 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday sidelined him for months and not weeks, leaving a gaping hole in the Huddersfield attack. The expectancy will be that Aarons covers him for now and provides him with competition when Koroma eventually returns later in 2021.
That is important. Koroma was important and how Aarons settles and impacts the starting XI will be important to Corberan. The 25-year-old has hardly been prolific during his loan spells away from Newcastle United, but one thing the Huddersfield boss has been able to do is get the best out of players previously written off.
Isaac Mbenza is one of those, whilst Koroma’s trajectory under the new Huddersfield boss has been impressive and the task Aarons takes on is replacing what he brings on the left.
However, the addition of the Newcastle winger solves a second problem for Huddersfield.
Lewis O’Brien has been auditioning for a place on the wing; an unfamiliar position for the 22-year-old, but a task he’s taken in his stride. Corberan’s system demands that fluidity from individuals and the midfielder isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to help his club.
There’s no doubt that O’Brien has the energy to get up and down the left, link well with Toffolo and plug a gap. However, he’s hardly prolific in terms of goals and assists, clearly lacking that instinct that wingers up and down the Championship possess.
It also robs Corberan of O’Brien’s energy and willing running in the centre of the pitch. That’s become a problem for Huddersfield and was part of their downfall in last weekend’s defeat to Reading.
Jonathan Hogg shielded the defence, with Carel Eiting and Juninho Bacuna ahead of him in a 4-3-3 system. Eiting has, simply, gone off the boil since his nomination of November’s Player of the Month award in the Championship. His performances have become leggy and he’s clearly missing leaning on the energy that O’Brien provides when he plays alongside him. Bacuna has his brilliant moments, but they are irregular. His lethargic style doesn’t mean he’s not trying, but his work in and out of possession doesn’t match up to O’Brien.
Aarons’ arrival allows Corberan to shift O’Brien central with Hogg and then decide between Eiting or Bacuna. Even Alex Pritchard might come into the reckoning alongside the energy and tenacity O’Brien and Hogg provide.
Chronicle Live and a number of other sources suggest Aarons will be a Huddersfield player in the near future. The FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend and offers Corberan a chance to experiment, but the Championship fixture at Watford follows swiftly.
A new winger through the door by then will be a welcome boost to Corberan and a show that Huddersfield aren’t planning anymore late collapses in this transfer window.
That’s the least Corberan deserves as he squeezes every drop out of his squad.