By James Murray

19th Oct, 2023 | 7:10am

Omari Kellymen in 'exceptional' progress behind the scenes at Aston Villa as close sources speak out

Omari Kellyman could be one to watch at Aston Villa after catching the eye of Unai Emery at Villa Park.

The Athletic reported on Wednesday (18 October) that those close to the 18-year-old midfielder have described his progress over the past year as “exceptional”.

The news outlet added that there is a sense that the England U-19 international’s tactical and technical understanding of the game has been “elevated markedly” as he continues to impress at the club.

After 10 years playing in the Derby County academy, Kellyman was snapped up by Villa in March 2022 for a deal that reportedly worked out at about £600,000 in compensation.

The League One side didn’t want to see one of their top talents leave Pride Park, but it was deemed a necessary measure to keep the club afloat and pay the staff’s wages at the time.

Their loss proved to be the Villans’ gain as he has gone from strength to strength since signing his first professional contract with the club in September 2022.

After impressing for the U-18s side at the start of last season, the attacking midfielder received a promotion to the U-21s team before going on to score three goals and laying on two assists in 10 Premier League 2 appearances.

He got off to a flyer at the start of this campaign, registering four goals in two Premier League 2 matches to draw Emery’s attention.

The Villa boss handed the teenager his first-team debut in the 3-0 win over Hibernian in the second leg of the Europa Conference League qualifiers in August, where he played the entire 90 minutes and registered an assist.

He also came off the bench last month in the Carabao Cup against Everton, but he was powerless to prevent his side from losing 2-1 and being knocked out of the competition.

Although he hasn’t made his Premier League debut yet, he has been named on the bench three times this season and it looks like only a matter of time before that day finally arrives.

Villa have taken a bit of a different approach to their youngsters in recent times, with academy products Cameron Archer, Jaden Philogene and Aaron Ramsey all being sold with buy-back clauses included in their deals.

Those transfers helped balance the books at Villa Park as Emery looked to bring in some more high-profile players over the summer.

It will be interesting to see what approach the club takes with the likes of Kellyman further down the line, but his immediate focus will be on earning more minutes in the first team.

It does sound as though he could potentially have a bright future in the game, so his progress over the next year or so will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

In other Aston Villa news, Emery has Jamie Vardy 2.0 sat right under his nose as one Villa youngster makes waves.