Aston Villa must win the race to sign Reading starlet Michael Olise in this summer’s transfer window.
Reports in recent months had suggested that the 19-year-old is on Dean Smith’s radar as the manager looks to rejuvenate his Villa squad with younger talent, but it appears that they now face significant competition for his signature.
Football Insider claimed that fellow Premier League club Leeds United are keen on making an early summer move for the French talent, with the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham also said to be interested in signing him.
Dubbed as “super talented” by Reading manager Veljko Paunović, the teenager has earned rave reviews for his skill, with Jose Gomes, his former boss at the Madejski Stadium, adding: “Michael is really special. He can see, even before receiving the ball, more options than regular players. His technical ability and speed, decision capacity is really, really good.”
That speed of thought to which Gomes is referring is something very much akin to Villa talisman Jack Grealish, who has been the main source of inspiration for Smith’s side this season – he has managed 12 assists in the Premier League.
Grealish’s tally of assists is almost matched by Olise, who has recorded ten in the Championship alone this term, as well as adding a further five goals to his name.
That level of creativity is something Villa desperately miss whenever Grealish is out of the side – you only have to look at how they’ve managed just three goals in the past five games when their talisman has been sidelined.
While Olise is by no means the finished article, his numbers in the key areas in which Grealish excels makes him a very promising player for Villa to lure to the club.
The teenager ranks in the top 12 for most fouled players per game in the Championship (Grealish ranks top in the Premier League), and is fifth for key passes in the division (the Villa man is also top for that metric).
It’s exactly why Villa sporting director Johan Lange must win the race for the 19-year-old, and with a reported release clause of around £8m for Olise, it’s surely a no-brainer to go all-out for him.
Meanwhile, Villa should unleash this academy talent…