Aston Villa have not been shy when it comes to identifying and signing players that they feel will improve their side, either as immediate first-team figures such as Danny Ings or young prospects that could work their way into becoming regular senior players in the future such as Louie Barry and Kerr Smith.
With a few days left until deadline day arrives, one fairly young player that Villa have been linked with that could come in and start making a claim to become a regular figure in Steven Gerrard’s team is Sunderland’s 20-year-old midfielder Dan Neil.
As a product of the Wearside club’s youth system, the midfielder has made a total of 42 appearances for Lee Johnson’s first team across all competitions, chipping in with three goals and eight assists along the way.
This season has seen the youngster play in all but one of Sunderland’s league games, highlighting how critical he is to the team.
As well as his goals and assists from midfield, Neil’s overall performances have also been note-worthy with WhoScored listing the Englishman as the fifth-highest rated Sunderland player to have played more than one league game so far this season with a rating of 6.86/10.
Despite it still being early days in his playing career, the Sunderland maestro has already been likened to a young version of Premier League legend Michael Carrick by talkSPORT commentator Ian Danter, which is a massive compliment given how highly regarded the former Manchester United midfielder is.
With that in mind, the opportunity to unearth the next Carrick at Villa should be a very exciting prospect for Gerrard and therefore persuade the Midlands club to launch a move to sign the Sunderland starlet, who has been labelled as a “diamond” by Phil Parkinson in the past.
Given how important he is to Johnson’s side, who are pushing for promotion back to the Championship, Villa may struggle getting them to agree a deal for Neil to leave before the end of the month.
However, with the lure of potentially playing in the Premier League with a big club like Villa under the management of one of the best midfield players of all time, this could be a very tempting next step for the Sunderland star should he feel like he’s ready to start a new chapter in his career.