With four major signings already under their belt, there may be those thinking that Aston Villa‘s transfer dealings may be coming to an end, yet the latest indication is that their swift business is only the beginning with more new arrivals potentially set to follow.
One such figure who could be on his way to Villa Park is Burnley youngster Nathan Collins, the 21-year-old having been tipped to make a £25m move to link up with Steven Gerrard’s side, with the Midlands outfit keen to exploit the Clarets’ recent relegation.
Signed from Stoke City last summer in a deal worth a reported £12m, the Republic of Ireland international went on to make 19 Premier League appearances in his debut campaign in the top-flight, having been thrust into a relegation scrap following injury to club captain, Ben Mee.
While he was unable to prevent the Lancashire outfit from suffering a return to the second tier, the £5.9k-per-week monster still recorded a string of impressive statistics at Turf Moor in that 2021/22 season, averaging 4.3 clearances, 1.9 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game in the league, while also chipping in with two goals.
He also compares favourably to those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, ranking in the top 2% for blocks made and the top 3% for aerial duels won, while also proving himself a menace at the other end of the pitch, as he ranks in the top 1% for touches in the attacking penalty area.
As strong as that form has been at club level, it is a recent moment of magic for his country that has particularly caught the eye of fans and pundits alike, the 6 foot 4 giant netting a stunning opener in the recent 1-1 draw with Ukraine.
Having cleverly intercepted play in the middle of the park, the £9m-rated gem proceeded to surge at the hosts’ defence, showing excellent power and skill to weave his way into the box, before producing a remarkable outside-of-the-foot finish to give his side the lead.
That effort – which was dubbed “absolutely extraordinary” by Daniel McDonnell – also earned praise from a man he may be in line to emulate for both club and country, Paul McGrath.
The Villa icon dubbed his young compatriot a “special player” following that goal, although he was a simply special talent in his own right during his playing career, developing into a cult hero at Villa Park during his seven-year stay at the club, notably winning two League Cups and finishing second in the inaugural Premier League season.
That campaign saw ‘God’ – as he has been nicknamed by the Villans faithful – also claim the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award for his stellar form, a marker of just how talented the central defender was in his pomp.
Even amid off-field troubles, the one-time Manchester United man continued to perform on the pitch when required, with former national team boss Jack Charlton once remarking that he is “one of the all-time greats” of the game.
A powerful, composed defender, McGrath is undoubtedly a tough act to try and replicate for any Villa player, although current boss Gerrard could go some way to finding his potential heir with a move for fellow Irishman, Collins.