Admitting that he ‘has to play’ week in, week out, Wesley has spoken about his need to get a career which had promised so much upon his arrival at Villa Park, back on track.
He told Het Nieuwsblad : “I didn’t think it would be now, but I always had it in my head that I would one day return to Club. The injury hastened that return. I have to play. That’s why I’m here.
“I was also able to play at Aston Villa, but the highest achievable was substitutions of a few minutes. I wanted to be able to start games again to grow to my best level. I am not the type of striker who can make a difference as a substitute. I told the coach I had to play more and wanted to leave. He said he understood.
“I have always kept in touch with Dévy [Rigaux, the recruitment manager of Club Brugge] Sometime at the end of July I told him I wanted to play more and he said that this could be interesting.”
Wesley suffered a severe long-term knee injury in January 2020 and missed over 16 months of competitive football.
Since then, Villa have spent nearly £70million on new strikers, including Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings, and even Mbwana Ally Samatta. Wesley’s return to fitness was no easy road back and forcing a way back into Smith’s first-team thoughts was another task altogether.
Wesley detailed how Club Brugge convinced him to return to the club in the summer.
“Club Brugge reported a week and a half before the end of the transfer period. I don’t know if there were any other options. I heard something about German clubs. Maybe they talked to my agent, but they didn’t talk to me,” Wesley explained.
“When Club Brugge wanted me back, my decision was made. I know the club, I know the players, I know everyone. I spoke with my agent, with Dévy and Vincent [Mannaert]. Dévy said the fans and the chairman wanted me back. I said, ‘if that’s true, I want to go back’.”
Wesley’s contract at Villa Park runs out in 2024, but he isn’t sure where his long-term future will be.
“My first goal is to play. I haven’t started a game since January 1st 2020. After this year, I am under contract at Aston Villa for two more years,” the striker added.
“It may be that I return, it may be that I go to another club. But everything starts with having a good season here. Then we’ll see what comes.”