Over the past week or so, Aston Villa has announced quite a few new contracts for players. First, it was Ashley Westwood. Then it was Leandro Bacuna, and finally it was Gary Gardner today. These extensions are in addition to new contracts for Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker. When looking at these extensions, combined with the signings of Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi, Adama Traoré, Jordan Veretout, Idrissa Gueye, Rudy Gestede, Scott Sinclair (on a permanent basis), José Ángel Crespo, Mark Bunn, and Micah Richards. When you look at all these players together, a certain theme emerges:
When you look at Aston Villa’s contracts (provided by the fantastic website AstonVillaCentral). Just about every single relevant player outside Callum Robinson (please get him signed as well!) in their 20s got a contract extension this summer. Extensions that will take these players through their prime years (the only extension that didn’t was Gardner’s and I’m guessing that is due to his injury history more than anything. Additionally, out of the 10 players that Villa has signed, 8 of them seem to be in their prime or about to hit their prime years (there have been a number of articles published that talk about players and when they seem to enter their prime. . The only two that aren’t? Jose Angel Crespo and Mark Bunn, who in my opinion are both signed to be backup options.
All this focus on youth brings us to Tim Sherwood. The flurry of contract extensions this week reminded me of the interview that Tim Sherwood did with BT Sport Europe. Throughout the interview (that lasted over 20 minutes), Sherwood spoke about development multiple times:
Sherwood obviously has a history in development, working as a developmental coach before becoming a manager at Tottenham and it’s interesting to see how much resources he seems to be dedicating to it here. Just about every Backroom Staff member on the coaching side that Sherwood has brought on has a history in development. In addition to that, Sherwood seems to be refocusing the club in that direction.
This interview and the fact that the transfer signings and contract extensions seem to be in line with Sherwood and his philosophy is a refreshing thought. Sherwood seems to understand that Villa isn’t yet in the position to sign big name, ready made premier league players and that the club are going to have to create their own. By signing and extending a number of young players with the potential to develop into very good players (and having them under contract during the time where they should hit their peak) is a nice change. It plays to Sherwood’s strengths and hopefully Villa will be able to reap the results of this strategy.