Aston Villa may have to make the heartbreaking call to allow Ahmed Elmohamady to leave at the end of the season, according to Noel Whelan.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds United striker has admitted both player and club have a “big” decision to make as the 33-year-old heads into the final six months of his contract.
The Egypt international, who joined the Villans in 2017, penned a one-year extension at Villa Park last year, meaning he will become a free agent at the end of this season if he does not commit to new terms.
The former Hull City man has made 119 appearances across all competitions for Villa so far, although he has become a bit-part player under Dean Smith this season.
Elmohamady made his first Premier League start of the season in Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, having featured as a substitute in three other top-flight games.
With game time limited due to the arrival of Matty Cash over the summer, Whelan has suggested there will be a difficult decision to be made over the cult hero’s future at Villa.
Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s still got that desire and hunger and that’s important for a player, when you get to certain age, that you still have that same desire that you had when you were 16, 17, 18.
“He’s got that, he wants to do well for the club, he is a long-serving player so it’s not just a headache for Dean Smith, it’s a headache for the player as well because he’s going to want game time, he’s going to want to finish his career playing week in, week out.
“I think at that age, to keep fit, you’ve got to be playing week in, week out. It’s very difficult when you get to a certain age to keep your fitness levels maximum unless you’re playing regularly in the first XI.
“It’s a really big decision for both player, manager and club because I’m sure they’ll do what’s right for the player. He’s served his time there, he’s done really well and if he’s happy where he is right now, comfortable with his family in the area and happy just being that bit-part player, then absolutely brilliant.
“Then the club got to look at is it worth keeping him and the wages that he’s on if he’s going to be a bit-part player so it’s got to be right for both.
“I think football comes first for the player, how do you want to finish your career because he’s getting to the back end of it, and you don’t have too long when you get to 33 so it’s a really big decision he’s got to make.”