With Aston Villa just beginning to stumble in the final few weeks of the Premier League campaign, Dean Smith may consider embracing some of the club’s rising young talents.
The Villans still find themselves in the mix for a European spot for next season but have hit a bit of a roadblock in terms of their form, winning just twice in their last nine top-flight games.
If Smith wants to look more long-term towards Villa’s future, then he could do a lot worse than handing an opportunity to someone like Carney Chukwuemeka.
According to Goal’s Tom Maston, “despite his age, the 6 foot 1 youngster has developed into one of the most imposing midfielders in English youth football, and though he will likely need to fill out more when he is promoted to the senior game, his footballing intelligence combined with his physical attributes mark him out as being supremely gifted.”
Maston also claimed that there is a “hint of Dele Alli about his game”, while the club’s academy manager Mark Harrison, was also unequivocal in his praise of the teenage midfielder. He said: “We’ve talked to him about scoring more goals, being more positive with his runs, both with and without the ball, and getting himself in that final third to rack up some assists and more goals.
“He’s a confident lad; will receive the ball anywhere on the pitch, under pressure and not under pressure. That’s what the manager likes; he comes into an environment and settles in quickly. We’ve got high hopes for him, like a lot of our players.”
Meanwhile, one scout told The Athletic: “He’s the best player Villa have got coming through. He can do everything in the midfield area and there are a lot of clubs monitoring his situation at Villa.”
Recently on the 1874 podcast, Gregg Evans spoke about how highly-rated Chukwuemeka is behind the scenes, revealing that “he’s the one everybody’s talking about” – the journalist even described him as “the real deal”.
Having a midfield player who can break the lines and time his runs into the box to pick up vital goals and assists would add an extra dimension to Villa’s game, something Alli did so successfully at Spurs when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge – the England international still has an impressive record of 65 goals and 59 assists in just 244 games for the Lilywhites.
In Chukwuemeka, Villa could unearth their own Alli, and he might be their next real breakout star after Jack Grealish.