Jaden Philogene has sparked unlikely Aston Villa transfer twist by doing what Unai Emery told him

Jaden Philogene
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Jaden Philogene was permitted to leave Aston Villa last summer despite impressing Unai Emery while away in the US on the club's pre-season tour, mainly because the Spaniard believed the winger needed regular game time which he couldn't guarantee at Villa Park.

As Villa did with Cameron Archer, another academy-developed player who left the club before returning this summer, they were careful to cover themselves in the event a scenario emerged when they might revisit the possibility of bringing Philogene back. Had Hull City, the beneficiaries last summer of Philogene's need for football, been promoted last season, Villa would've had the option to sign him back.

Indeed it transpires that the club also had a matching right; if Hull stayed in the Championship, which they did after missing out on the play-offs on the final day of the season, and a Premier League rival offered big money to lure him to the top flight, then the Lions could open talks with the England under 21 international too. Philogene had Ipswich Town and - reportedly - Everton on his tail. A fee of £18m has been bandied about.

Villa are understood to have matched that sum. We'll see what becomes of the pursuit of Philogene, who has the option to return to Villa Park as a Champions League player, but what was already established a long time ago is that Emery is a big fan. Philogene, who scored 12 and created six more in the Championship last season, was clearly not going to feature enough last season.

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Behind Leon Bailey, the then fit Emi Buendia and new signing Moussa Diaby, Philogene on the face of it wouldn't be afforded too many opportunities, it was predicted. Now, you may throw Morgan Rogers and Samuel Iling-Junior into the mix, too. Nevertheless, Philogene would return to Villa this summer a far more rounded player after the season of his career to date.

"We are thinking to play regularly here is going to be more difficult than going again in another club," Emery said last summer. "Of course, we are going to follow him and we are going to be aware as well of how he's developing, but we are very demanding in our squad, in our decision to keep players here. We want to be competitive in every competition we are going to face."

Emery will have liked what he saw last season. It wasn't just Philogene's goals, his skill or his outrageous Rabona effort at Rotherham United which has been tipped to become a Puskas Award contender. It is, as former boss Liam Rosenior said, the whole package.

"His ability is something we missed for a long time. He’s only going to get better with the more games he plays," Rosenior said of Philogene after that Rotherham stunner. “It’s not just his goal or his showreel moments, it’s his energy levels he gives the team – he works so hard. He’s got real belief he can be a top player but the reason he can be a top player is because he works so hard on his game.”

In that sense, if Philogene's hiatus away from Bodymoor was only ever meant to last a year, he's by all accounts used it to the full and responded to Emery's hope that he'd play regular first-team football by excelling at a good level and ready for another crack at the top flight.

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