Rumours circulating last summer revealed that the Midlands outfit were eyeing a deal for the young Englishman during Dean Smith’s time in charge, while again in January there had been suggestions that the club could look to do a deal again, despite the change in manager at Villa Park.
Were Steven Gerrard can co to push for a move for the Rochdale-born gem in the current window – amid significant interest from fellow Premier League side Everton – the belief is that it could cost as little as £15m, a relative bargain for a player of such quality.
Despite his youth, the former Manchester United youth player has already racked up 147 appearances in his Clarets career thus far, scoring seven goals and providing 17 assists since his first-team debut under Sean Dyche back in 2018.
The Turf Moor outfit’s recent relegation has no doubt alerted Villa – and others – to the possibility of being able to pluck the £72k-per-week menace before the August deadline, with such a highly regarded prospect seemingly far too good to be plying his trade in the Championship.
Although he endured a frustrating 2021/22 campaign both on a personal note and collectively – providing just one goal contribution in the league in 38 outings – the 6-foot playmaker is still an immense talent regardless, having been previously dubbed a “special player” by journalist Andy Jones.
What also sets him apart is his rare willingness to put in the hard yards defensively, as he ranks in the top 1% for clearances and the top 2% for blocks made among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, as well as in the top 12% for tackles made.
Undoubtedly a hard-working asset, the former England U21 international has also caught the eye due to his wicked delivery and wand of a left boot, with such strengths even seeing him earn comparisons to Argentine superstar, Angel Di Maria from pundit Joe Cole.
That is some praise indeed for young McNeil such is the quality of the current Juventus man, with the 34-year-old having been arguably one of the most impactful players of the last decade or so at the elite level.
The former Paris Saint-Germain man has recorded a staggering haul of 154 goals and 244 assists in 674 games in all competitions in his club career to date, while also chipping in with 25 goals and 24 assists in 122 appearances at international level.
A real creative genius, the fleet-footed forward even recorded impressive statistics during his ill-fated spell in England at Old Trafford, delivering 16 goals and assists in just 32 games across all fronts, at a rate of one goal contribution every two games.
Should the Villans firm up their interest in McNeil in the coming weeks, they could well be able to have a player of similar ilk to that of Di Maria on their hands, with the Burnley man still having plenty of time ahead of him to progress and develop even further.