Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has wished Carney Chukwuemeka well but emphasised no player is bigger than the club or the Academy.
Chukwuemeka, 18, sealed a permanent transfer to Chelsea this week, having opted against signing a new contract at Villa with his previous deal set to expire next summer.
While Villa’s handling of the situation was faultless in terms of offering him a new deal back in May, to giving him opportunities with the first-team under Gerrard to ultimately leaving him out of our pre-season tour of Australia due to the ongoing uncertainty over his future, it was still disappointing to see him leave.
Nevertheless, Gerrard has assessed the situation perfectly again by insisting that while there is no denying the talent and potential that Chukwuemeka possesses, the right decision was eventually made with the club’s bests interests in mind and he was allowed to move on this summer while we secured a decent fee as opposed to losing him for nothing next year.
“I really enjoyed working with Carney, he’s obviously a big talent, someone who’s got big potential,” Gerrard told the media, as per the club’s site. “I think the Academy boys and when we came in, we worked ever so hard to work on his development and shape him, try and polish him up, so Chelsea are getting a big talent. We wish him well and we move forward.
“We’ve got a lot of talented players and we’re committed to trying to get as many through, committed to give pathways them to get first-team football.
“The door was open for a pathway for Carney, for sure, there was a lot of hard work and attention to try and get him signed up here, but I’m really happy I got the support from the owners, Christian and Johan, and we also needed to set a precedent that no-one is as big as the club or the Academy. And if someone isn’t committed or prepared to commit to the club, the supporters and the journey then we have to give them the opportunity to go somewhere else.”
With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Cameron Archer, Tim Iroegbunam, Ben Chrisene, Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Josh Feeney all involved with the senior squad this summer, there is no doubt that Villa have an exciting crop of youngsters coming through the ranks who are pushing for a bigger role and have committed their futures already.
Time will tell if they can make that next step, but Villa will certainly continue to prioritise what makes sense for the club, and will also consider what’s best for the player too as while there is disappointment over losing Chukwuemeka, we will undoubtedly move on without him and hopefully see others take that chance instead.