The 21-year-old midfielder signed a new two-year contract today. He was due to become a free agent this summer, but Villa have decided to retain him. With Gardner failing to make a single first team appearance last season, the outlook seemed bleak, but Villa have clearly seen enough from Gardner through his development to believe he deserves another chance.
Gardner seemed delighted when interviewed for the Villa website:
"For me, it shows how much the Club cares about me and sees me as a central player in the future. The manager and other people at the Club believe in me and know what I'm capable of. I want to be a big player for the team next season and I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to demonstrate the potential they see in me."
He also showed a steely determination to succeed at the club he loves:
"I went to Sheffield Wednesday last season on loan, played through a foot injury and made it worse, so that was another setback. But that's the type of lad I am. I really want to do well here. This is my team, it's a brilliant football club and playing for Villa has always been my dream."
This news should be well received by the Villa fans. It’s good to see that a player with clear potential will not simply be cast aside, he will get a proper chance to prove his worth. Gardner’s wages will not be that significant, it’s not as if he had a great bargaining position or much interest from other clubs for his signature. But it shows that Villa are willing to give out new contracts to senior players and talk of a contract ban is clearly false. Hopefully deals for key players expiring next season are not too far away, as the futures of Delph, Vlaar, Agbonlahor, Grealish and others must be resolved soon.