Tribal Football

Stephen Warnock exclusive: Aston Villa can be world power; Maatsen, Barkley & Dobbin are great additions

Stephen Warnock exclusive: Aston Villa can be world power; Maatsen, Barkley & Dobbin are great additions
Stephen Warnock exclusive: Aston Villa can be world power; Maatsen, Barkley & Dobbin are great additions
Stephen Warnock exclusive: Aston Villa can be world power; Maatsen, Barkley & Dobbin are great additionsAction Plus
Aston Villa has everything in place to become one of the world's best clubs, according to Chris Heck.

Coming from the president of business at Aston Villa one might suspect his viewpoint could be a little tainted, but speaking to Tribalfootball on behalf of BetVictor, Stephen Warnock agrees completely with the sentiment.


“Even when I was at the club the infrastructure was great and they'll have been improved upon since. I know the work that they're trying to do, getting the stadium bigger and better. The infrastructure outside the stadium as well,” says Warnock, who spent four seasons at Villa Park himself.

“The big thing for me now, though, is that they've got a manager who, when he gets on the phone to someone, they’ll want to join Villa. When you look at Aston Villa now as a team, from where they were when Unai Emery came in, they're now feared within the Premier League, everyone knows they're in for a tough game tactically.

“They know Villa have got good players, it is a team on the up and they've got very, very ambitious owners and a very ambitious manager,” Warnock adds before taking a closer look at some of the new faces who’ll be rocking up at Villa Park next season. Ian Maatsen, for instance.


Potentially one of the best

“I really like him as a player. I don't think he's defensively at his best yet, but under a manager like Unai Emery, he'll improve massively. He'll understand a different side of the game. I was fortunate enough last season to watch Aston Villa train over pre-season and managers manage their teams. They manage training sessions; they don't necessarily improve players. That is done by the academy staff throughout the years. 

“But Unai Emery is a coach who continues to develop players and make them better, and I think Maatsen will improve tenfold under Emery. His ceiling is what he wants it to be, isn't it? It depends on the mentality of him, but he could be one of the best Premier League defenders. He's got that capability.”

Lewis Dobbin has also joined the ranks at Villa which caught Stephen Warnock a bit by surprise.

“It was a bit of a surprise to everyone, if I'm being completely honest. He's been on the periphery at Everton and he is very raw as a player. But he's exciting and I think that Unai Emery can polish a gem and make him into the player that everyone thinks he's very capable of becoming.” 


Barkley back in business

Returning to Aston Villa after a very successful stint with Luton Town, Ross Barkley will be hoping to make more of a mark than when he spent a season on loan with the Villans in the20/21 season.

“This is a really interesting one. His career took a downward spiral for a while as he didn’t play enough at Chelsea. His French move went okay but probably not the way he wanted and then he got that chance to go to Luton and shine. I think what he got from Luton was a manager who believed in him and set a team up around him and he showcased what Ross is extremely good at,” Warnock says of a player he spent time with while at Leeds United.

“Technically, he's a fabulous footballer. His football brain is incredible and now you pair him up with Unai Emery. I don't think a young Ross Barkley would have worked as well with Emery. But a mature Ross Barkley will want to learn from him. He'll want to get better because he knows, he's got a second chance at playing in the Premier League and an opportunity to go back to Villa. It’s a big club, he’ll play Champions League football. 

“This is probably what he's dreamt of doing again; getting back to that level, and it's very difficult to get to there. He's one of those midfielders who we've seen last season, who can control a game, even for a team like Luton against the big teams. He's got that capability and especially the style in which Unai Emery plays, he likes to draw players onto him which then creates spaces for the players in positions higher up the pitch,” Warnock praises the former Everton prodigy.

Barkley is brought in to fill a gap created by the sale of Douglas Luiz but Warnock would have liked to see Luiz staying at Villa Park.

“I'm a big Luís fan. He probably suffered a bit in the final part of the season with fatigue, just because he was the ever-present and he lost players alongside him. Especially the injury to Kamara was a huge loss alongside him, but the club had to balance the books and I think the deals that they've done have been extremely good.”


- Stephen Warnock was speaking to Tribalfootball on behalf of BetVictor