Aston Villa reaping rewards of Monchi's latest transfer masterstroke

John McGinn thought Morgan Rogers played his best game in a Villa shirt so far against Bournemouth
John McGinn thought Morgan Rogers played his best game in a Villa shirt so far against Bournemouth -Credit:Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Unai Emery is not surprised by how quickly Morgan Rogers has adapted to Premier League football following his £8m move to Aston Villa from Middlesbrough.

After less than 10 top-flight appearances, the 21-year-old has already at least doubled his value by making a strong impression since arriving in January. Plenty of outsiders questioned why Villa were willing to pay up to £15m for Rogers, who had only joined Boro last summer from Manchester City, but Monchi and Emery have once again proven their eye for talent.

Rogers is a powerful runner on and off the ball, can score goals and combine with his teammates in the final third. His intelligent movement out of possession is a key weapon to his game which has allowed him to make an instant impact at Villa.

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Rogers joined Man City in 2019, but didn't make a single league appearance and headed out on loan three times. But any player who works with Pep Guardiola must learn tactical concepts which can take their game to another level. Just this season, the likes of Tommy Doyle at Wolves, Cole Palmer at Chelsea and James McAtee of Sheffield United have all impressed since leaving the Etihad Campus.

"It is not a surprise because when we analysed him playing in Middlesbrough and we decided to sign him, it’s because we watched his characteristics as a player," Emery said. "There is still a lot of work to do with him. Every player starts somewhere, League One, League Two, Championship, Premier League. It’s always a process with younger players.

"He was at the Manchester City academy and when he progressed, they decided to let him leave and he was progressing in the Championship. Of course, he had and he has shown us his qualities and then in structure, his qualities were perfect to introduce and set in our squad.

"Now, for different circumstances, he is playing more than we thought. One reason is because he is playing well and then because Jacob Ramsey, with the same qualities, is injured.

"When some players are injured like we had, it’s important to have players ready to play in our tactical ideas. He is learning so quickly and we will need him at the end of the season like he is playing now and even better."

Emery added: "His adaptation was easier because his qualities in our squad and structure tactically is really through him easier. He has the skills, he understands how we want to create our structure tactically offensively and defensively.

"He is showing his capacity, his adaptation is quick and he’s scoring goals like today. He played today imposing as well individually his duels a lot of times with the moment. He’s been fantastic."

Some players of his age and inexperience in the Premier League may have felt the pressure to perform consistently given the injury suffered by Ramsey, but Rogers has thrived. He plays without pressure and has relished the opportunity to play his role in Villa's pursuit of Europa Conference League glory and a top four finish.

Villa booked their place in the Europa Conference League semi-finals by overcoming Lille on penalties, just 72 hours before beating Bournemouth 3-1 at Villa Park to increase their cushion in the Champions League places to six points.

“The boys who came off the bench were outstanding," John McGinn said after Villa's penalty shoot-out win in France. "Morgan is coming into his own. Three games on the bounce he has been different class.

"With us, with everything we have been through this season, it just felt we deserved a bit of luck. Some people say you work for your luck but I think we deserved it tonight."

After the victory on Sunday against Bournemouth, McGinn was full of praise for Rogers again. He said: "I was thinking 'who is going off first?' To be fair the boys dug in deep. I thought the way we played was slightly different, we sat in a wee bit deeper and the attacks were brilliant.

"I thought it was Morgan's best game in a Villa shirt. I would also go as far as saying it was Ollie's as well which is a big shout. I thought he was outstanding. It's a huge win but we're absolutely knackered so we have a couple of days off to recharge the batteries - I'm going up the road to get a game of golf in."

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