Former Aston Villa defender Bjorn Engels has insisted his move to Antwerp is not a step backwards, as at least he’ll be ‘competing for prizes and Europe’.
The Belgian returned to his homeland this summer after two very mixed years at Aston Villa following a move from Stade de Reims in July 2019.
He was a regular for the Villans during his first season but found himself out of the picture last year, failing to make a single appearance in the Premier League and just one in the Premier League 2.
That prompted a move back to Belgium this summer, with him happy to make a return in search of regular game time.
The move could be considered something of a step back for the 26-year-old, but he does not believe that is the case.
“I am aware of that. He can’t handle the foreign level, is what you often hear,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
“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.
“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)”
While the last year at Aston Villa was a disappointing one for Engels, it was not a completely negative experience for him.
His first year saw him playing regularly, gaining vital experience in the Premier League, something many players would consider a major bonus.
It also saw him working with John Terry behind the scenes; something Engels says he took plenty out of.
“I think I read the game even better than before,” he added.
“By working individually with John Terry (now assistant at Aston Villa, ed.), I learned which zones in the field are important. As long as the attackers don’t get there, there’s nothing to worry about.”