Aston Villa signing Rudy Gestede ready for Premier League challenge

The 26-year-old striker is eager for another crack at the likes of Arsenal after getting a brief taste of the top-flight with Cardiff City back in 2013.

Aston Villa new boy Rudy Gestede has told AVTV that he feels ready to take on the Premier League again after proving himself at the Championship level with Blackburn Rovers.

Gestede, 26, began his professional career at French club FC Metz in 2005 before eventually heading across the Channel in the summer of 2011 to join Cardiff City following a successful trial.

The French-born striker would go on to score eight goals in 63 games for the Bluebirds over the next two terms but found first-team opportunities limited following the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2013.

However, after featuring just three times in the top-flight over the first few months of the 2013-14 campaign, the Benin international made a mid-season switch to Blackburn Rovers, where he soon established himself as one of the second tier’s most prolific front men.

A record of 35 goals in 72 appearances during his 18 months at Ewood Park saw his name linked with the likes of Sunderland and West Ham United earlier this summer [h/t Daily Mail], before Villa managed to win the race to his in-demand signature last week for around £6 million.

The 6ft 4in forward knows that it will be tough to replicate last season’s 22-goal campaign a division up but, having come on in leaps and bound since his Cardiff stint, believes he is now far better prepared to face the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.

“Hopefully everything’s going to happen the same way [as at Blackburn],” he told AVTV. “I really enjoyed my time in the Championship but now is a good time for me to step up and take my chance in the Premier League.

“I’m happy to be here. The club gave me a chance. It’s a massive club. I’m from France but even over there everybody knows about Aston Villa so I’m very excited to come here and start the season.

“It’s a big challenge for me but I’m going to give everything to make sure I do it right,” he continued. “I know the level is completely different in the Premier League but I’m looking forward to it.

“I was frustrated [last time] because, when you get promoted, you look forward to playing in the Premier League, but I wasn’t in Malky Mackay’s plans.

“But I did well when I went back to the Championship with Blackburn and 18 months later I’m back here, so it worked out well for me.”

 2014-15 Championship PositionTeamGoalsGoals MINSTotal ShotsShooting AccuracyAssistsTotal Key PassesHeaders WonHeader SuccessAppearancesMins Played
Rudy Gestede FW Blackburn 20 135.25 120 36% 4 45 359 59% 39 2,705

Gestede has some big boots to fill at Villa in replacing Christian Benteke, who made a £32.5 million move to Liverpool last month, but there is reason to believe that the towering striker can he just as dangerous an aerial threat as his predecessor.

In fact, there was no one in the Championship who even came close to matching his success in the air last season, having won 135 more headers than his nearest rival, Cardiff’s Alex Revell.

With fellow boy Jordan Ayew, Gabby Agbonlahor, Libor Kozak, Callum Robinson and potentially even Emmanuel Adebayor providing competition for minutes up top, it remains to be seen whether he will start next weekend’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth but, given his Championship success, there is good reason to believe he can carve out a regular role in Sherwood’s first-choice XI moving forward.

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