Aston Villa confirmed last week that Jacob Ramsey had signed a new four-and-a-half year deal to stay at the club until 2025; rewarding his performances in the senior side and signalling the club’s intent to accelerate the integration of youth players into the first team.
In many ways, the new contract wouldn’t shock many on the surface of it. Jacob Ramsey has performed admirably this season when called upon (Posting an average rating of 6.13 on WhoScored.com) and has risen to become an almost expected substitute in the midfield; bringing speed and intensity in the latter stages of games.
But when you consider that the 19-year-old midfielder only penned a new deal last year, it shows just how far he’s come in the eyes of an already forward-thinking personnel staff, as well as the commitment to keeping, nurturing and integrating young talent at the club.
At 19 years of age and being entrusted against big name opposition, the future is limitless for the Great Barr local.
The same can be said for a trio of others who have had interest from big clubs, both domestic and European: Carney Chukwuemeka, Louis Barry, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace.
There is also the fact that most of the academy squad, minus two of the better players in that team, practically matched a full-strength Liverpool side for over an hour in the FA Cup fixture back in early January.
To have such a thriving academy system opens up options to develop quality depth players, which the football club has been lacking since the 2000’s when ten players graduated from the academy to feature regularly for the senior squad (i.e., Thomas Hitzlsperger, Gary Cahill, Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Ciaran Clarke).
The fact that four players in one intake are attracting such interest attests to the club’s improvement in regards to the recruitment process and how they develop players once they are in the academy, with the top of the crop already splitting their time between the academy and the senior squad.
What does this mean long-term? A stream of talent getting more experience with the senior squad lends to finding opportunities for Premier League and cup experience going forward; avoiding the need to throw youth into high-pressure situations (See throwing Indiana Vassilev into a lone-striker role and needing a goal while providing no support).
Nurturing depth until they can become first team regulars will strengthen the core of the squad and free up money to add further depth and superstar talent as our owners flex their ambitions with each coming year.
The academy team will be an interesting and promising side to keep an eye on from now on as the football club continue to dedicate time and money into it. Not only those who are already in the side, but academy transfers should start to be seen just as exciting and promising as senior transfers.