Aston Villa paid a club-record £22m to recruit Brazilian striker Wesley from Club Brugge, finally surpassing the £18m plus add-ons that was spent on Darren Bent in January 2011. If he has scored at the highest level in the Champions League, and his 17 goals last season contributed to him being named the best young player in the 2018/19 Belgian First Division A, such an investment for a newly-promoted club on an individual with no experience of English football represented a risk.
In four seasons with Brugge, Wesley scored a total of 38 goals and provided 14 assists in his 130 appearances. That he has suddenly been ruled out for the remainder of the season, alongside goalkeeper and fellow summer signing Tom Heaton, having suffered knee ligaments damage means that Dean Smith is without two of those he was relying on in Villa’s bid to remain in the Premier League.
Wesley had started all of Villa’s league games, scoring five goals and assisting one, and during a run of four goals in six had shown signs of acclimatising to the demands of his new manager and environment. “They are two key players I feel very sorry for,” said Smith. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves; we have to deal with it, help the players in their recovery and go and recruit wisely.”