When then-Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood brought Jordan Veretout to the club back in the summer of 2015, he made it clear just how “delighted” he was at getting a deal done.
The ex-Blackburn midfielder 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, however, and things hadn’t turned out the way either the player or the club would have wanted at Villa Park, with the team going through a roller-coaster period of managerial changes and relegation from the Premier League as well.
In the end, the Frenchman was sent out on loan, before sealing a more permanent move away from the club when he joined Serie A outfit Fiorentina for around £6m in 2017. Since then, he has been nothing short of incredible, enjoying an impressive rise which is now seeing him shine for one of Italian football’s biggest clubs in AS Roma.
This season has seen him develop into an elite goal-scoring midfielder, netting ten times in 24 games in the league alone, including a match-saving brace against Juventus in a 2-2 draw. It’s no surprise, then, that his market value has shot up considerably, with Transfermarkt now rating him at £31.5m – more than five times the amount for which Villa actually sold him.
However, there were some behind the scenes at Villa Park who did see his potential, with caretaker manager Kevin McDonald in particular 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.”
Niggling injuries didn’t help his cause, but he didn’t even take to the pitch for any of Villa’s last seven Premier League games of the 2015/2016 season, not even making the matchday squad in four of them.
When you see the way he is shining now, though, there must surely be a sense of regret that they couldn’t keep hold of Veretout or ever get to see the best of him at Villa Park.