It’s a picture Aston Villa fans have no doubt been waiting to see for almost a year. Wesley back on the training pitch.
After going down with a cruciate ligament rupture at the start of the year, the Brazilian has been out of action for around ten months, and the nature of injury will of course raise questions about how quickly he can get back to his best.
But what the 23-year-old’s eventual return from injury does however give Villa, is the chance to potentially get the best out of one of their summer signings: Ross Barkley.
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The England international has enjoyed a very encouraging start to life at Villa Park after arriving on a season-long loan from fellow Premier League side Chelsea, bagging three goals in six games across all competitions.
But there is reason for Dean Smith to think that Barkley could go up another level or two, especially given his performances in an Everton shirt. At Goodison Park, the 26-year-old really thrived when playing alongside Romelu Lukaku, who like Wesley, had a physical presence and the mobility to run into the channels and play on the shoulder of opposition defenders.
And when you look at the stats, you can see just how much of a great understanding they built up together. The duo combined for 13 goals between them, which is more than double the man in second when it comes to Barkley’s best teammates.
Just last season, Smith hailed Wesley for the way in which he never stopped running against Liverpool, saying: “The noise from the stadium when he was doing that was almost like he’d scored and it gives everybody a great lift when you do that.”
Speaking back in March last year, England boss Gareth Southgate raved about Barkley, declaring: “What I’ve seen from Ross (Barkley) over the last 12 months is a real improvement in his play berween our penalty box and halfway.
“What we saw the other night, which is what we want from him, is that ability to drive with the ball and do the things that, I think, make him a special player.”
Having a powerhouse like Wesley to play off, and link up with, could see the £100k-a-week star take his game up another notch.