After the stunning start to first-team life Cameron Archer has made, Aston Villa could well be looking at the club’s new Darius Vassell.
The 19-year-old spent last out on loan at National League side Solihull Moors, where he showed real promising signs, bagging five goals in 12 appearances, including in the FA Cup.
But it has been his displays this campaign in the Carabao Cup where he bagged a hat-trick against Barrow, and a superb brace against League One Wycombe Wanderers in the Papa John’s Trophy, that have really lit the blue touch paper.
A profile piece by The Birmingham Mail back in the summer of 2019 described him as “one of Villa’s most highly thought of youngsters alongside Jacob Ramsey”, and that he’s a “livewire forward with excellent footwork and the ability to find the back of the net”.
The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece said: “Genuine pace. That’s Cameron Archer in a nutshell. He’s short, stocky and jet-heeled. Blink and you’ll miss him.
“Cam, as he’s known, is a natural striker who plays off the shoulder of a defender but, in recent weeks, has been deployed on the right of a three-pronged forward line, such is his ability to beat his man one-on-one. Delaney and Smith could see his long-term future as an electrifying winger.”
And that ability to offer something completely different to what Dean Smith currently has at his disposal, makes him a potentially intriguing rotation option for this season – the likes of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings have both proven themselves in the Premier League as goal-scorers, but neither can match the sheer speed of Archer.
That pace and movement is eerily reminiscent of a young Vassell, who enjoyed a fine career at Villa Park in his early days, going on to score 45 goals in 198 games for the club that he grew up with.
Premier League Heroes noted: “Lightning fast and extremely agile, he was incredibly never on the losing side in any of the 46 Premier League games in which he scored.”
Vassell of course was Villa’s sole representative at EURO 2004 when Sven Goran-Eriksson decided to take him as part of his group of four strikers – a real measure of the kind of quality, and uniqueness in his style of play compared to the likes of Emile Heskey, Michael Owen and 18-year-old Wayne Rooney who also went with him.
Archer’s similar blend of speed, skill and finishing is something that has already gotten everybody’s attentions behind the scenes at Villa Park, with assistant head coach Craig Shakespeare noting he made a big impression earlier this summer.
He said: “We went on a pre-season training camp and he came down and did really well – caught everyone’s eye with his enthusiasm and goal scoring ability.”
And, having already shown he can score even against senior opposition, Archer is showing the kind of early potential that marked out Vassell as a potential star in the making.