Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has jokingly told reporters that he plans to leave Tom Cleverley out of the upcoming FA Cup final unless he agrees to a permanent Villa Park move, the Daily Mail reports.
The Manchester United midfielder found himself out of favour at Old Trafford, trading the Red Devils for Villa on a season-long loan deal in September.
His early-season form often left much to be desired, but since Tim Sherwood took over in mid-February the United loan star has reached a level previously unseen from him in the Premier League.
For a player who has received his fair share of flak for playing too cautiously, Cleverley has been liberated recently and his goal during Villa’s 1-0 win over West Ham was his third strike in as many games.
Sherwood has made no bones about his desire to sign him permanently, and he joked to reporters in the post-match press conference that he plans to use the upcoming FA Cup final as bait.
“We’d like to keep him but he’s obviously got a few options. I’m going to tell him if he doesn’t sign he’s not playing in the FA Cup final!” Sherwood was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll get in the England squad soon. No matter where you tell him to run he does it. He gets it, easy to coach. He’s a very intelligent footballer.”
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As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Cleverley has been excellent under Sherwood’s stewardship and his relationship with fellow midfielders Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood is top notch.
The 25-year-old has averaged 2.89 duel winners, 5.56 ball recoveries, 54.78 touches and 35.89 accurate passes per Premier League encounter over the past nine matches.
His future at United looks bleak and a move to Villa Park would make sense, however he may be forced into taking a pay-cut if the two clubs can agree terms.