Cameron Archer now surely set for first team Aston Villa role this season after latest Unai Emery stance
Cameron Archer now surely looks set to stay at Aston Villa for the coming Premier League season, with the striker part of Unai Emery’s plans as things stand.
The Bodymoor Heath academy product has enjoyed a mature and impressive year in the Championship, enjoying a terrific loan spell at Middlesbrough.
Archer, 21, played just six times in the Premier League for the Villans early last season before being sent out on a half-season loan to the Riverside, a move which turned out to be a stellar decision for all parties.
During his six-month spell under Michael Carrick, the 21-year-old bagged 11 goals and six assists from 20 outings, establishing himself as one of the most prolific and exciting young strikers in the country.
However, his stunning experiences and development didn’t stop there despite Boro’s unfortunate failure to secure Premier League promotion, Archer also formed a part of the England Under-21 European Championship winning team in July.
The Young Three Lions lifted the trophy for the first time in nearly 40 years after a dramatic last-minute penalty save by James Trafford ensured the Young Lions held on to beat Spain in a historic triumph (8 July).
Villa’s young hitman certainly played his part despite filling in from the bench throughout the tournament, scoring two goals from his five appearances.
And those two goals highlighted a player who now possesses a new-found clinical edge in front of goal and confidence that means the Premier League could be in for one of its historic and fairytale individual success stories in the coming campaign.
Boro boss Michael Carrick is certainly still in the market for at least one striker this summer and would love to have re-signed Archer if possible, with Stoke City also keen, but Emery says squad depth will be key for Villa as they plan for a tilt at the Europa Conference League and hinted that Archer is part of his striker pool.
Aston Villa are preparing for a hectic season which is likely to involve playing more than 50 games after qualifying for Europe.
While Ollie Watkins will be Emery’s first-choice centre-forward, the Spanish boss knows he needs cover and competition for his leading striker.
Aston Villa currently aren’t actively searching the market for a Watkins cover handing Archer the dream chance to fill in when needed, even if it is a limited role, the experience and responsibility could do his game the world of good and it certainly seems as if Emery trusts him.
Speaking to Birmingham Live (26 July) during pre-season, the former Villarreal coach when discussing a possible Watkins contract extension confirmed the club aren’t in the market for a striker as they still possess the likes of Archer and January addition Jhon Duran to come in when possible.
He said: “The idea is of course to extend his contract because we are very happy with him and he is our striker, not only him because we also have Duran and Cameron Archer. We have to use every player and we need other players as well to help and support us.
“We are not speaking about the possibility of them going on loan.
“He’s (Duran) a player we will need because he is our second striker with Archer and we have to use both as well and we have to give them chances to help us, but it’s not a possibility for Jhon Duran to go on loan, it’s to stay here.”
Emery’s latest comments certainly come as pleasing news to both Duran and Archer, especially the latter. Watkins did undergo a difficult spell to close out last season, and the Villa coach had no one to rely on to help the former Brentford man when he needed it.
Archer possess the qualities and selflessness in his game to provide much-needed backup but also be utilised as a foil to create space for Watkins and vice-versa.
Archer has got to be playing Premier League football this season, he certainly deserves as much and the stats show he can certainly follow in the footsteps of teammate Watkins, or even Harry Kane who both shined at Championship level to become household Premier League names.
According to FBRef over the past 365 days, Archer ranks impressively high amongst forwards in the next top eight competitions after Europe’s top-five leagues.
The 21-year-old ranks in the 99th percentile for non-penalty goals per 90 minutes, 99th percentile for assists per 90, and 99th percentile for expected assisted goals showcasing his huge levels of influence and performance when both scoring and creating chances.
That is certainly further backed up by his 90th percentile ranking for progressive carries, 88th percentile for successful take-ons and 89th percentile for touches in the attacking penalty area per 90 [FBRef].
Not only is Archer a true penalty box predator but a player capable of mixing his game in the final third too, marking him out a superb option in playing behind Watkins as a second-striker.
When a striker possesses such unique and gifted characteristics, to be influential both in scoring goals and creating them which are further backed up by his underlying numbers, there’s no reason why he can’t take the next step in his career and Archer is at the top of that list amongst young strikers currently plying their trades for Premier League clubs.
Just how crucial will the Europa Conference League platform aid his development also. Emery has already publicly declared his trust in him, it’s now up to Archer to deliver when the dream opportunity arises.