Ben Chrisene could be in line for a Premier League breakthrough after Matt Targett’s January move to Newcastle United, Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard tells the Birmingham Mail.
Kieran Trippier hogged the headlines following Newcastle’s vital 3-1 victory over relegation rivals Everton on Tuesday night.
And rightly so. It was he, after all, who capped a Man of the Match performance with a wonderful free-kick at a pulsating St James’ Park.
But don’t underestimate the impact Matt Targett made on the opposite flank.
Yes, the Aston Villa loanee didn’t create any headline moments like his fellow full-back but his display against Everton was what we’ve come to expect from a man who’s come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months or so.
One of January’s best signings?
Aston Villa would have been happy to keep Targett until the summer at least.
But, following the arrival of Lucas Digne, Gerrard was never going to stand in his way as the former Southampton ace swapped the Villa Park bench for a starting role under Eddie Howe.
“(The Newcastle move) was his decision,” the manager says ahead of tonight’s clash with Leeds United.
“Matt decided he had an opportunity he wanted to pursue. That’s when the respect comes in and you don’t stand in anyone’s way.
“I would have preferred him to stay and fight as he is a really strong left-back in this league. But I can’t stand in anyone’s way unless I can guarantee him game time.
“Everyone needs to know it was Matt’s decision rather than him being pushed in that direction.”
Will Ben Chrisene make his Aston Villa debut?
While one door closes, another opens for an 18-year-old whizzkid who’s been turning plenty of heads at Bodymoor Heath since arriving from Exeter City.
Ben Chrisene, one of the stars of last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph, is yet to make his debut in Aston Villa colours.
That could soon change.
“(Targett’s exit) opened up a pathway for young Ben Chrisene,” Gerrard adds of the England youth star.
Interestingly, Chrisene was a target for Liverpool and Bayern Munich before joining Villa in 2020.
“(He’s a) really good prospect and we’re really excited to try to help him become a Premier League player.”
According to The Athletic, some at Aston Villa feel Chrisene is the most talented of an exciting crop of youngsters currently wearing claret-and-blue.