An American youth international is temporarily dropping down the pyramid in pursuit of first team football.
Indiana Vassilev is joining League One club Burton Albion on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, pending league approval. The 19-year-old midfielder is under contract with Aston Villa in the Premier League. He signed a new two-year deal with the club in July, which lasts through June of 2022.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Vassilev told Burton’s official website. “I’m a player who’ll work hard for the team and look to create for the team. I’ll do whatever the team needs - I’ll be the handyman! I’ve had a lot of good experience with the Aston Villa first team but we decided it’s time to test myself in another league.”
Burton manager Jack Buxton described Vassilev as a “direct player” who will excite the fans. The Brewers finished in 12th place last season. Following recent elimination from the EFL Cup, the next fixture is on Saturday, September 19th against Accrington Stanley.
Vassilev joined Aston Villa’s youth system in 2018 from the IMG Academy. He’s been a regular with the U-23 side, contributing six goals and two assists in 14 reserve league matches last season. His senior debut came last January against Fulham in the FA Cup, which was followed by 16 minutes off the bench in the EFL Cup and four brief Premier League appearances. Villa manager Dean Smith praised Vassilev as tactically intelligent and physically impressive.
The Georgia native is a fixture at the youth international level for the United States, featuring at the 2017 U-17 World Cup. He is eligible to play for Bulgaria and reportedly turned down a call-up from them last January. Vassilev will likely be included in the upcoming Olympic qualifying roster, the next step on his path to the senior national team.
While this loan may be viewed as a regression, it provides the opportunity for playing time at the senior level. Despite Vassilev’s appearances during last season’s relegation battle, he would have likely spent most of this year with the reserves. This summer, Burton underwent the typical lower league off-season makeover, so the packed schedule combined with his positional versatility should lead to regular inclusion in the unsettled match-day roster. If Vassilev puts in solid performances and continues to dictate possession, then he will progress to the next level, whether that is at Villa or a different, interested club.