Journalist Ashley Preece has provided his thoughts on the future of Aston Villa youngster Carney Chukwuemeka amid reports that the teenager is attracting significant transfer interest.
Speaking in a Q & A for Birmingham Mail, the Villa correspondent hinted that the 18-year-old will be in no rush to commit his future to the club just yet, despite having just one year remaining on his existing contract.
Asked whether the Austria-born ace will sign a new deal, Preece stated: “As for Carney, if you’re asking me, he’ll make Villa sweat for a bit longer. A real chance he could be the player of the European Championships with the semis vs Italy. Clubs watching him.”
However, Steven Gerrard has previously confirmed his desire to keep the academy graduate at the club for the long-term, following his recent taste of senior action.
While Villa won’t want to be held ransom by the youngster over a new deal, then Johan Lange and co must surely be aware that they could well be set to lose the £5.4m-rated gem if they do not act this summer.
Failure to do so would put them at risk of losing Chukwuemeka for ‘nothing’ next summer – albeit with a compensation fee likely to be required – or see them forced to cash in in the current transfer window in order to recoup funds.
Although the £2.4k-per-week talent has not become a fixed first-team as of yet – making just 12 top-flight starts last season – he has already shown glimpses of his talent, with Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson lavishing him with praise following his first league start against Brentford last August.
The former Villa midfielder gushed: “You look at the positives, the young kid, Chukwuemeka was very good.
“He has got a bright future. I don’t see a lot of the kid’s football. First-half, he was outstanding. He was gliding across the pitch. 17-years-old, you are playing in the Premier League in the centre of midfield. I mean that’s a big ask.
“He will be an absolute star. He glides across the pitch. He is a nice size. He gets on the ball. He looks for it and makes runs without the ball. I think Villa fans going away will definitely be talking about him.”
Equally, Chukwuemeka’s form at international level of late has highlighted just what an exciting asset he really is, having starred for England at the European Under-19 Championship this summer.
In his first three games in the tournament, the former Northampton Town youngster provided four goal contributions in total, with such standout form no doubt catching the eye of even more top clubs around Europe.
The fear will be that an elite club will attempt to poach the teenage menace following his involvement with the Young Lions, leaving Gerrard and co little time to act to try and agree a contract extension.
It may be an old cliché, but getting a bumper new deal sorted for Chukwuemeka could well feel like a new signing for the club.