Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery made minimal changes to his playing squad during his first transfer window in charge of the club in January.
The Spaniard brought in Alex Moreno and Jhon Duran, from Real Betis and Chicago Fire respectively, whilst also allowing Danny Ings to join rivals West Ham United.
One area in which he did not strengthen the squad, though, was out wide and that position may come under scrutiny in the summer as Leon Bailey has struggled for form this season.
The 25-year-old has managed four goals and two assists in 24 Premier League appearances – creating 0.8 chances per game for his teammates and averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.66.
Emery could unearth the long-term heir to the former Bayer Leverkusen attacker by bringing academy youngster Jaden Philogene into the first-team next season.
Like the Jamaica international, the 21-year-old can play on either flank and has operated as a second striker on occasion, which means that the gem could play in a wide role or as a supporting option next to Ollie Watkins.
How has Jaden Philogene performed this season?
The young winger has scored three goals and created two ‘big chances’ in 16 Championship starts on loan at Cardiff City this term – averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.73.
He has missed two ‘big chances’ in the second tier, compared to Bailey’s three in the top-flight, but has caught the eye with a recent burst of form for the Welsh outfit.
Philogene has created three chances, scored once, and completed a whopping 12 dribbles in his last three appearances in the league combined.
The youngster appears to be finding his feet in the Championship and is starting to add end product to his game, by taking players on and creating and scoring goals for his side, and journalist Ashley Preece recently hailed him as a player with “X-factor” who’s “on fire”.
This comes after the wizard produced 22 goals and five assists in 42 outings for Villa at U21 and U18 level combined, which earned him a chance in the first-team for two EFL Cup matches in 2021/22.
In those games, Philogene assisted two goals and created three chances, whilst also completing four dribbles, which shows that the gem can thrive in the first-team environment.
These statistics suggest that the Villa academy product could be an eventual upgrade on Bailey, who has completed 1.3 dribbles per game in the Premier League this season, if the magician can translate his form at youth level and for Cardiff over to the top-flight in the years to come.
At the very least, Emery should offer the young Bodymoor Heath gem a chance to impress in pre-season with a view to him competing for a place in the squad for the 2023/24 campaign.
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