Björn Engels insists he has not taken a ‘step backwards’ after leaving Aston Villa – and points out his new club has something his old one does not.
The 26-year-old joined Villa for €8 million in the summer of 2019 and played 19 times in his first campaign.
However, a pre-season thigh injury wrecked his second and he was sold to Royal Antwerp who finished third in the Belgian top flight.
“I am aware of that. He can’t handle the foreign level, is what you often hear,” he said. “Just like ‘He is a man of glass’ because I had some bad luck with contact injuries in Brugge.
“Guys like Ritchie (De Laet) and Birger (Verstraete) know what it’s like to play abroad, with highs and lows. I bring a lot of experience to this relatively young group.
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“I don’t think my choice for Antwerp is a step backwards. I may have come from the Premier League, but Antwerp are competing for prizes and plays Europe. Aston Villa aren’t. So if you look at it like that… [laughs]”
Engels remains fond of his time at Villa Park though and paid tribute to the coaching staff for helping him develop even when he was watching the likes of Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Ezri Konsa dominate game-time.
“I think I read the game even better than before,” he said. “By working individually with John Terry, I learned which zones in the field are important. As long as the attackers don’t get there, there’s nothing to worry about.”
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