Steven Gerrard backs Emi Buendia to shine for Aston Villa

Norwich City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Carrow Road
(Image credit: Joe Giddens)

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has backed Emi Buendia to shine after his international debut.

The forward returns to face Leeds on Wednesday after his bow for Argentina against Colombia last week.

Buendia arrived from Norwich in the summer in a record deal worth up to £38million two months before Jack Grealish was sold to Manchester City for £100million.

He has scored twice in 21 outings for Villa, including the winner in last month’s 1-0 victory at Everton, but has impressed since Gerrard was appointed in November and the boss expects him to continue his form.

“We’ve certainly seen that explosion. We believe he’s had a fantastic month (in January). All the players needed time to adapt to us and the way we want to play,” he said.

“The good thing for Emi is we believe this style, shape and what we’re trying to do is tailormade for him and his own style. We feel it’s a really good match.

“He’s seen that early on and we’ve had real buy-in from him. He’s a tenacious little character and player, he’s got amazing talent and he’s got stronger and stronger with each training session.

“He believes he can only get better, I have that type of belief in him.

“We are not comparing him to Jack Grealish, we’re not looking back, we’re only looking forward to support him and give him an environment and a culture to thrive in. We want to give him a style of play which brings out the best in him.

“It’s about taking the excuses away from, not just him, but all the players. He has thrived in this environment since we came in. Emi deserves to be compared to only himself.”

Marvelous Nakamba (knee) remains out but Leon Bailey is back in training after a hamstring injury, although the game is likely to come too soon, while Bertrand Traore has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations.

“To get them back in the squad for the coming fixtures will be a big help and they’ll feel like two new signings because we haven’t seen much of them at all. That’s been a frustration for them and for us,” added Gerrard.

Meanwhile, Trezeguet is due to join Turkish Super Lig side Basaksehir on loan.

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