Following on from the confirmation that young and talented striker Caleb Chukwuemeka would spend the second half of the 2021/22 campaign out on loan with Scottish Premiership side Livingston, as the 19-year-old Aston Villa prospect prepares to hopefully make his debut for the side later this evening when they face Dundee, he has revealed that John McGinn backed Steven Gerrard’s decision to recommend (and offer) him to Livi and manager David Martingale, and not Rangers.
Speaking to the Edinburgh News Chukwuemeka explained that Gerrard made the recommendation directly to Martindale and although he didn’t speak to him directly, John McGinn more than sealed the deal after he’d spoken to Livingston’s gaffer.
“He and John McGinn were key factors in me coming here. I feel, to take my game to the next level, the exposure and experiences this league brings will definitely help. John McGinn was saying that the standard is very high in Scotland. Some people might underestimate the league but he told me to expect the unexpected and make sure I am ready. He told me to grab it with both hands and that’s what I want to do. When someone like John talks you listen. The minute I stopped speaking to John I wanted to come here.”
With Rangers linked last summer, Caleb added.
“I remember my agent saying to me that Rangers were interested in me in the summer. It was a crazy coincidence that Steven Gerrard came to Villa as the manager. You can only learn from a guy like him. Everyone knows what he has done in the game and I was excited when he came to Villa. Now I need to show him what I can do here and hopefully get my chance there next season. It’s nice of the Villa gaffer to speak so highly of me to the gaffer here. This loan can only help me. That will help me prepare for the future if I want to play in the English Premier League.”
With decent game time for his age under his belt during his time at Northampton, Caleb made his debut for us in the 6-0 EFL Cup victory over Barrow earlier in the campaign, and he’s got seven goals to his name for our Under 23 side.
Few would argue he hasn’t done well for us, and Livingston will be another good step for him to make as he keeps learning and developing as a player. Martindale has certainly done his homework here, explaining he knows the loan is a ‘developmental process’ and patience will need to be shown as they look to get the best out of him.
“Big Caleb probably sees himself more as a winger but Aston Villa see him as a nine so that is going to be a developmental process, I need to work with Caleb on that. But he can play anywhere across the front three. He has come up here with massive potential. There is an adaptation period attached to that, he is only 19.”
With Livingston giving Matija Sarkic great game time during his spell with them a couple of seasons ago, there’s no reason to think this spell won’t be as fruitful for Caleb and no doubt plenty of Villans will be watching on to see how he does at this level when we think of our own future.
Should he debut tonight, fans can watch the full game on BBC Alba at 10pm (Sky 169).
Vital Villa’s Youth – U23s – Loans Forum Thread