When Tim Sherwood brought Jordan Veretout to Aston Villa back in the summer of 2015, he made it very clear just how big of a coup it had been for the club.
He said: “He has played over 140 games in Ligue 1 and is a really exciting young player. I know Veretout is very highly rated over in France, so we are delighted to get this deal over the line.”
Fast forward a year later, and things had turned upside down at Villa Park, with the club going through a tumultuous period of managerial changes and relegation from the Premier League to boot.
In the end, Veretout was sent out on loan, before sealing a more permanent move away from the club when he joined Serie A side Fiorentina for around £6.25m.
And since then, he has been nothing short of incredible, enjoying a remarkable rise that is now seeing him shine for one of Italian football’s biggest clubs, AS Roma.
This season has seen the £25.2m-rated central midfielder add a bit of a goal-scoring touch to his game, bagging four goals and providing another assist in just eight league games, including netting a brace in a 2-2 draw with Juventus.
The fact is however, that there were those within the inner circle at Villa who valued him very highly indeed. During his lone playing season at the club, caretaker manager Kevin McDonald hailed him, saying: “Jordan is a wonderful passer of the ball. He will get better. And he is looking to impose himself in training games. Now he has to do that over a period of time. If he does that, he will be a very, very good player.
“Glenn Hoddle didn’t have to run up and down the pitch. But he was the most wonderful passer this country had in a long, long time. It’s not about being a holding midfielder or an attacking midfielder – Jordan needs to be a midfielder who gets on the ball more than anybody else in the team.”
Sadly, not everyone seemed to echo those sentiments. A case of niggling injuries didn’t help his cause one bit, but he didn’t even take to the pitch for any of Villa’s last seven Premier League games of the 2015/2016 season, including not even making the match-day squad in four of them.
But the way he is shining now, there must surely be a tinge of regret that they couldn’t keep hold of Veretout or even get to see the best of him at Villa Park.