Lambert revealed in Friday’s pre-match press conference that Villa have an option to turn Cleverley’s loan move into a permanent transfer if they choose to. It’s understood that Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal would be happy to sell the 25-year-old England international, who currently earns £70,000-a-week at Old Trafford.
However, Cleverley must help Villa turn around their recent league form in order to convince Lambert that he deserves a permanent move to Villa Park. The Villains enjoyed an excellent start to the 2014-15 Premier League campaign, but have lost their last four matches without scoring a single goal.
Speaking to journalists, Lambert confirmed reports that Aston Villa have an option to buy Cleverley outright in the New Year - and indicated that he is happy with the player’s performances so far.
“We have an option on Tom,” the Scottish manager said. “We have not gone into great detail but he has played well. He was the one lad who was busy on Saturday, he has so much to offer."
“He’s a good guy, good pro and does everything high tempo even when he trains," Lambert continued. “Whatever happens in January will happen, the option is there but we still have a couple of months to go.”
Lambert refused to commit to the idea that Aston Villa would definitely purchase Cleverley, whose Manchester United career has never really taken off, with the Red Devils’ £7 million asking price one potential stumbling block.
“I just want him to play well here and enjoy it and that’s what he is doing which is half the battle,” Lambert added. “It’s not been an easy start playing at a new club but come January we will see.”
Cleverley admits he could leave United
Earlier this month, Cleverley admitted he could see himself completing a permanent transfer to Villa Park following an encouraging start with the West Midlands outfit.
“Could I stay here? Yeah definitely, I'm enjoying myself,” he revealed in an interview with the Telegraph. “We have a great midfield and I like working under the manager and Roy [Keane] so why not?"
Cleverley said last season that he felt he had been unfairly made a scapegoat by some Manchester United supporters for the team’s struggles under David Moyes.
But, after 14 years with the Red Devils, it appears that Cleverley’s time at Old Trafford is now almost certainly up.