Aston Villa defender Bjorn Engels is destined to be a “huge player” for the club this season, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United and Coventry City striker explained why the centre-back, 24, can be a key man for Dean Smith’s side.

Engels has lined up in the centre of the Villa defence alongside fellow Tyrone Mings after being one of 12 new signings made by the club during the summer window.

The Midlands giants lost both matches – against Tottenham on the opening day and then at home to Bournemouth on Saturday – but one new arrival caught the eye of a seasoned observer.

“I’ve been really impressed with Engels,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He is a dominant centre-back who reads the game well and is good on the ball.

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“His partnership with Tyrone Mings will be really vital to the team’s hopes this season. The two of them will be a strong pair once they get an understanding and have played together for a while.

“At the moment, they haven’t played with one another for long enough. The Premier League is the toughest league in the world because of the quality of the players you’re up against.

“But Engels should do well, he’s going to be a huge player for them.”

Engels signed from Greek club Olympiakos during the summer for a fee of around £9million after spending last season on loan at Reims in France.

In other Aston Villa news, Football Insider can reveal that the club are in talks over agreeing a contract deal with a promising attacker.