By Jonty Banks

22nd Mar, 2023 | 5:10pm

Lamare Bogarde can save Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris millions at Aston Villa

Aston Villa academy gem Lamare Bogarde continues to defy expectations on loan at Bristol Rovers and could be one to watch if given a shot by Unai Emery next season.

The Dutch centre-back, who can also play in central midfield, switched Bodymoor Heath’s academy for Joey Barton’s League 1 outfit in the January transfer window, and he has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Bogarde, 19, has delivered strong performances for Bristol Rovers in several positions and has looked to possess a footballing IQ of a player far beyond his years.

Speaking after Bristol Rovers’ 3-1 win against Forest Green, Barton admitted he didn’t expect Bogarde to reach the levels he had when signing the prospect in the January transfer window.

“Yeah, class, isn’t he?” Barton told Bristol Live [13 March].

“Lamare, I just watched on the Wyscout clips, but you could see he was competent, could handle the ball and we needed a body in that area.

“I have to be honest with you, he’s better than what I predicted.”

Considering Barton’s glowing review surrounding Bogarde and Unai Emery’s insistence on the defender training with the Aston Villa first team during the World Cup break, it seems like there is little to dislike about the academy graduate.

In the long run, it looks like the Feyenoord youth player could save Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris millions, with a step up to the first-team environment the obvious next step in his career.

What could make the Dutchman such a useful player at Villa Park is his versatility to play anywhere across the back line or even in the engine room, as he has proven at Bristol Rovers.

Playing besides experienced duo Sam Finley and Paul Coutts in Barton’s midfield won’t be doing the youngster any harm whatsoever, and he can learn some of the dark arts of professional football from characters such as this.

Bogarde looks to be physically ready for the demands of professional football, and the fact he is playing week in and week out in a demanding league will stand him in good stead before returning to Aston Villa.

If the Netherlands youth international can continue to impress under Barton in the 2022/23 campaign, an opportunity to make his first-team bow in the Premier League can only be around the corner – he is ready to blow Emery away.

In other Aston Villa news, Ollie Watkins can feel hard done by after this recent decision, according to Alan Hutton.