While deals for Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne and Robin Olsen during the current January transfer window show that Aston Villa have been keen on strengthening their senior side, the fact that they then signed Kerr Smith suggests that the Midlands club are eager to add some young talent to their ranks that can grow and develop into future first-team players.
Another example of this would be if the club manage to strike a deal for Sunderland midfielder Dan Neil, who has recently been mentioned with a move to Villa Park from the Wearside club.
Since then, the 20-year-old, who is currently picking up a weekly wage of £1.4k-per-week according to Salary Sport, has gone on to make 41 appearances for Lee Johnson’s side across all competitions, scoring three goals and providing eight assists along the way.
Having been likened to a “young Paul Gascoigne” in terms of his “lovely dribbling technique” by Johnson, Neil has proved himself to be an important figure for Sunderland this season with only Ross Stewart and Callum Doyle having played more minutes in League One than the midfield talent.
This and the fact that Neil put pen to paper on a new long-term contract back in October to keep him at the club until 2025 means that it could be difficult for Villa to sign the Englishman, particularly halfway through a season that the Black Cats are attempting to win promotion back to the Championship in.
With that in mind, this could be one situation where Villa rely on their manager’s reputation as one of the Premier League’s greatest midfield players to try and lure Neil to Villa Park to give him the chance to learn under Gerrard’s management and eventually play in the Premier League.
Given the hype around him at Sunderland and the fact that he has been described as an “exciting” player by Kevin Phillips, it’s definitely worth Villa making a move to sign Neil in the summer to see if he can make the step up in his career to an ambitious Premier League side.