Carney Chukwuemeka is close to completing his long-awaited departure from Aston Villa, having been frozen out by Gerrard after refusing to sign a new contract with the Premier League side
Chukwuemeka had entered into a long-running contract stand-off with Villa, refusing to sign a new deal. His current contract was set to run out next summer, with Chukwuemeka thought to have been keen to leave in search of more game-time.
He has now been granted his wish for an exit, with the Blues set to complete a £20million deal with Villa. The move was announced on Tuesday night, with Chukwuemeka expected to travel to London to agree personal terms and undergo his medical.
Anyone following the saga over the contract standoff will not be surprised that he has now left Villa Park.
Boss Gerrard had left him in England as Villa travelled to Australia for their pre-season tour, with the 18-year-old forced to train with the Under-23s squad instead.
The Villa chief announced his decision earlier this summer before the squad flew out of the country. He highlighted Chukwuemeka’s continuing refusal to sign a new deal as the key reason behind freezing the wonderkid out.
“Carney is yet to sign a contract offer that has been in place for some time now. I’ve decided the best thing for him would be to continue his training programme back at Bodymoor,” Gerrard told Villa TV.
It marked a major U-turn from Gerrard, who had given Chukwuemeka a chance in Villa’s first-team last season. The midfielder made 11 appearances in total, with Gerrard having insisted in December that he should remain in the Midlands.
“We believe this is the right place for him. If anyone else thinks it’s not, then I would like to sit in front of them and discuss it. We don’t see a problem. He’s got 18 months left on his deal, we just need to let the kid play football,” Gerrard said.
But having starred for England’s Under-19s as they won the European Championships, he began to attract increased interest. Amid that interest, Gerrard opted to freeze him out of his squad as he prepares for his first full season in charge at Villa.
According to Birmingham Live, Gerrard did not want Chukwuemeka’s stand-off to become an ‘unnecessary distraction’. As he demanded full focus from his players, the English starlet’s head had been turned, leading to Gerrard leaving him in Birmingham.
With the 18-year-old now close to seeing his wish to leave granted, Gerrard will hope that it ends any distractions. With an agreement in place between the two clubs, Chukwuemeka’s transfer to Stamford Bridge should now progress quickly.
Having become embroiled in a stand-off with Villa and Gerrard, it is unlikely he will go with Villa’s best wishes. But with Chelsea paying £20m for an inexperienced player who is out of contract next summer, it represents the best possible deal for the Midlands club.