Early signs were promising, with the club winning four of their first six games under the new manager, losing only to Manchester City and Liverpool. Since then, however, they have only won seven league matches, stretching back to December 2021.
A solid transfer window this summer saw a number of quality additions arrive at Villa Park such as Boubacar Kamara, Diego Carlos, and Philippe Coutinho (making his loan move permanent) – with Gerrard targeting a European spot.
These impressive signings haven’t translated into good performances, however, with the side winning just one Premier League match all season. It was perhaps a player that the 42-year-old missed out on that might have made a difference to their shoddy defence (ten goals conceded in six matches).
The moment the Englishman arrived in the Midlands, there was already talk of which Rangers players he would eventually bring down south, with Ryan Kent and Borna Barisic being the two high-profile names mentioned. Villa were linked with Bassey too, and with his performances at the end of last season securing him an excellent £23m move to Ajax, Gerrard might rue not setting up a reunion.
The Nigerian international really came of age last season, covering numerous injuries at the heart of the Ibrox side’s defence as they made an incredible run to the Europa League final, with Bassey named in the tournament’s team of the season.
During the Europa League run, Bassey averaged a 6.9 rating on SofaScore, showing his growing maturity since being thrust into the Gers starting XI. The defender enjoyed an average of 61.1 touches per match while also impressing defensively, making 1.4 interceptions and 1.6 tackles per game. The 23-year-old also displayed his strength, with opponents only beating beaten by an opponent 0.2 times per fixture.
The move to Ajax hasn’t daunted him in the slightest. His first Champions League match saw his new side defeat the Light Blues 4-0 and Bassey looked at home on the big stage, deserving of his 7.5 rating as per SofaScore and having a staggering 150 touches during the contest, while completing an incredible 141 of his 145 passes with a 97% pass success rate.
Missing out on the “wonderful” Bassey might be a decision that will come back to haunt Gerrard, and with the Villa manager knowing his strengths and how good he was at Rangers, he should have acted a lot quicker.