At 29 years old, he could soon be phased out in favour of the youth, with Ben Chrisene patiently waiting in the wings for his chance.
The 18-year-old “prospect” – as dubbed by Steven Gerrard – is currently enjoying his first taste of senior football out on loan at Kilmarnock, following five appearances and an assist last season in the Premier League 2.
Gerrard admitted following the departure of Matt Targett that he would’ve wanted him to stay, but claims “it’s opened up the pathway for young Ben Chrisene”.
He continued by noting: “We’re really excited to try to help him become a Premier League player”.
The Villa youngster clearly is thought of very highly at the club, with the manager envisioning a pathway for him to break through. This was before the arrival of Digne, but his age suggests that he is here for instant success, whilst Chrisene can come in as his understudy.
With time, his offensive play will surely improve. For now, however, his 2.0 interceptions and 3.0 tackles per game are indicative of a youngster who is not wilting to the new challenges that senior football is presenting him with.
Although Cameron Archer may earn plenty of pundits coming out of the club’s academy, Chrisene has a clear pathway for entry into the first team too.
A couple of brief appearances off the bench in the Premier League this season, and last season’s loan spell at Preston North End, suggests he is the star man, but regular minutes out on loan could actually suit the defender more. He is also two years his junior, so has plenty of room left to grow.
He could end up being the standout graduate if he continues his steady development, and eventually replace the ageing Premier League stalwart at left-back.