The Athletic’s Gregg Evans has confirmed that Aston Villa are eyeing a move for Burnley winger Dwight McNeil this summer.
A report from Football Insider previously claimed that Dean Smith’s side have their eye on the Clarets talent, with the 21-year-old “one of the top targets of their recruitment team” and the Premier League club “lining up a huge bid for him”.
Evans has now said: “Villa already recognise the need for another wide player, and The Athletic understands Burnley’s Dwight McNeil is of serious interest, as is Emi Buendia of Championship winners Norwich. Extensive groundwork has already been done on both of them.
“The scouting department has closely scrutinised his in-game contributions, and McNeil is recognised as a player who brings additional options to open up a game.
“Ideally, Burnley do not wish to part with any of their top performers and are under no pressure to sell, but every player at the club has their price — though McNeil will not come cheap. He’s contracted to the club for another three years, with an option to extend that by a further year. It is also understood that at least three other clubs are interested in him, besides Villa.”
With his ability to beat players one-on-one – his average of 1.8 dribbles per game in the Premier League is the highest of any Burnley player and double that of Charlie Taylor in second – McNeil could create an exciting tandem with Jack Grealish.
The £50m-rated winger has arguably been one of the few standout performers going forward for the Clarets, and it’s something which has led to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp raving about him.
He said: “Dwight McNeil is such a good player, lovely left foot, doesn’t stop running. Every time I watch him he gets better and better, he’s got real quality and certainly a player that the top six to eight clubs will be looking at, and that’s no disrespect to Burnley because I don’t like saying that sometimes, but he is that good.”
McNeil’s composure on the ball, something very much akin to Grealish, has led to Burnley manager Sean Dyche hailing the composure that he has when he gets into the final third of the pitch.
He said: “He’s a real talent. He’s a really good player, he’s improving, his calmness at the end – I’m saying get it in the corner – but he cuts in, and his calmness to cross it into a dangerous area, and then gets his reward.
“Before then, his calmness to dribble out of trouble – he’s a really good player, really good, and he can only mature.”
There are a lot of similarities between the way McNeil and Grealish play, and a move for the Burnley winger could help to build a supremely entertaining attacking duo at Villa Park.