By Peter Lynch

13th Apr, 2023 | 12:10pm

Bertrand Traore 'masterstroke' at Aston Villa hailed by French media after Unai Emery decision

Unai Emery is currently working wonders in the Aston Villa dugout, with fans gushing over the club’s rise under their new heroic manager.

Out of nowhere, Villa have climbed to sixth in the Premier League table, with the Spaniard getting fans dreaming of an unthinkable return to European football.

Now many are fully aware of how dangerous the club are, but it was surprise after surprise from the Villa boss in his early Villa days, with that list including the decision to call back winger Bertrand Traore early from his loan spell at Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir.

A knee injury, coupled with some spots on the bench and 51 largely ineffectual minutes against West Ham and Bournemouth, caused plenty of confusion around Villa Park as to why Emery made the decision to bring Traore back to England.

It looked even stranger from the outside given the fact the attacker had netted just three goals from his 18 matches in Turkey.

But all doubts have been quickly quashed, with the winger scoring his first goal for the club in almost two years, in what was both a stunning and crucial strike in the 2-1 win against Leicester earlier this month.

His phenomenal hit wasn’t enough to warrant a starting place in the following clash with Nottingham Forest, but he found himself on the pitch sooner than expected as fellow winger Leon Bailey limped off injured.

And Traore quickly repaid the faith shown in him by Emery by scoring his second goal in as many games, with his form and indeed the injury to Bailey expected to result in a starting role for Traore against Newcastle on Saturday (15 April).

Villa go into the game having scored in all 17 of their Premier League matches under Emery, with only Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti and Norwich under Mike Walker scoring in more consecutive games from the start of a manager’s reign (both 18), according to Sky Sports.

His feats have not only left fans in awe, with FootMercato writing: “Dismissed by Steven Gerrard and pushed to Turkey, Bertrand Traore made a resounding return to Aston Villa.

“A recruit as unexpected as decisive desired by Unai Emery who has so far achieved a masterstroke.”

Despite featuring for just minutes against Leicester, Traore’s 7.4 match rating was bettered by only Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins (both 7.7), according to SofaScore.

The Burkina Faso international then landed a spot in the top five with his 7.1 rating against Nottingham Forest, where Traore boasted a 91% passing accuracy and won two of his four ground duels [SofaScore].

Aston Villa supporters could be forgiven for forgetting that Traore was still one of their players, but Emery didn’t forget, with the experienced boss clearly seeing something in the forward that Gerrard and indeed many others did not.

The future is looking very bright for Traore, his manager and Aston Villa as a whole, with the club now the closest it has come in quite some time to returning to their European glory days.

In other Aston Villa news, transfer target Pedro Goncalves continued to live up to his billing as the next Bruno Fernandes with a perfect 10/10 performance for Sporting Lisbon on Sunday night (9 April).