Speaking to Polish publication Meczyki, Southampton loanee Jan Bednarek says he would have been “super happy” to join West Ham United but felt Premier League rivals Aston Villa “wanted me more.”
Bednarek could not afford to make a hasty choice with the World Cup in Qatar just around the corner. Aston Villa or West Ham?
In the lead-up to one of the most significant games in the center-football back’s career, which club would give him the best chance of securing regular first-team play?
“I remember that I fell asleep at midnight and got a message from Tomek Magdziarz (Bednarek’s agent); ‘Everything is agreed with West Ham. You go there tomorrow at 10am’,” the 26-year-old recalls.
“I got up at 8:30am and got the message; ‘We have to wait a while. They are waiting, negotiating with Southampton’. At 10am, no information. I call the president of Southampton and he said; ‘Listen, we accepted both offers. Aston Villa and West Ham. It’s up to you where you go.’”
Bednarek admits that he would have been ‘super happy’ at either club. But, despite holding belated talks with West Ham boss David Moyes, it was Aston Villa who went above and beyond, convincing Bednarek to join on loan during the final throngs of a dramatic deadline day.
“I was sitting in the Southampton locker room with James Ward-Prowse, Theo Walcott and Willy Caballero. Experienced players who have seen a bit of life. I mentioned my transfer and they said Aston Villa is a great club,” adds Bednarek, who joined the Saints in a £5 million deal from Lech Poznan in 2017.
“I spoke to the agents and they (encouraged me to join) Aston Villa. My wife said that London is great, but the most important thing is that I should feel good.
“I remember in the locker room I said; ‘West Ham wants me, but David Moyes didn’t even call me.’ I swear I told it to the guys in the locker room and, a second later, a phone call from Lukasz Fabianski, who said; ‘The manager would like to talk to you.’
“I talked to Moyes and enjoyed their interest. But, at that moment, I felt that Aston Villa wanted me more.”
However, Bednarek is already in a precarious situation at Villa Park. Bednarek is starting over as he tries to win over a new head coach because Unai Emery has taken over for Steven Gerrard, who brought him to the Midlands.
He is, however, on Poland’s World Cup roster, along with Matty Cash, a teammate from Villa. Mateusz Klich of Leeds United, in contrast, was left off of the final 26.