Rio Ferdinand once said in regards to Cameron Archer: “Get the contract out, put it on the table. Let him sign it. Let him write whatever numbers he wants to put on there given what he’s done since he’s come in and let him sign the contract.”
Ok, so that may be a slight twist on the trust. The former Manchester United and England defender did say that now infamous quote once upon a time but it was in relation to the current United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And yet, the funny thing is - when you flip it to being about Archer, it’s beginning to sound more and more relatable every time he wears the claret & blue.
In four EFL starts this season (two EFL Cup & two EFL Trophy), the 19-year-old has scored eight goals and provided two assists including a goal at Stamford Bridge and two hat-tricks against Barrow and Burton Albion respectively. Not a bad return.
After spending the back-end of the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Solihull Moors, Archer returned to Villa Park this summer and it’s fair to say, hasn’t looked back since.
From scoring his first goal in senior football for his boyhood club to making his Premier League debut at Old Trafford, the last couple of months have been simply surreal for the youngster.
Archer has been part of the Villa youth set up since he was six-years-old which makes his rise all the more excellent to see and it’s a rise that is showing no signs of slowing down.
And that’s what makes whatever it is that comes next all the more interesting.
The 19-year-old’s current contract is set to expire at the end of the season and what probably looked beforehand like a routine renewal, suddenly has a bit more to it.
There will no doubt be some teams lurking around thinking they can poach yet another Villa starlet from under their noses with promises of this, that and the other.
However for what it’s worth, I don’t see him going anywhere. The only thing I see for certain is that he’s added a few digits on to his next contract and fair play to him.
The main task that will face Dean Smith is what he does with Archer if and when he does sign a new deal.
He’s quite clearly capable of the step up to men’s football, it’s something he has shown on numerous occasions now. He’s also quite capable of scoring against the best as shown by his goal at Stamford Bridge. But, does he get in ahead of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings? Probably not. At least, not yet.
There’s an abundance of more experienced attacking talent in the Villa ranks including the soon returning Leon Bailey which means if Archer does stick around, the majority of his time will probably be sat on the bench. He’s too good to be doing that.
A loan to a Championship side in January following a contract renewal would be, for me, the way to go but it is clearly not the easiest decision to make.
Smith has sung the forward’s praises on numerous occasions and gave him a standing ovation from the stands of the Pirelli Stadium when he was substituted in the youth team’s 4-2 victory, showing just how much he appreciated his performance.
It wouldn’t surprise at the same time to see the manager keep him around. He seems to have jumped in front of both the injured Keinan Davis & Wesley Moraes in the pecking order so if Watkins or Ings get hurt, he’s next man up. But that all comes down to ‘what if’s and ‘but’s and ultimately whether or not the teenager is happy to sit around and bide his time.
Whatever the future holds for Archer, it’s sure looking to be a bright one and to go back to how we started - whatever happens next, let’s all agree that we need to “get the contract out, put it on the table and let him sign it!”