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Aston Villa: Luiz Henrique could be their next Grealish

Aston Villa are preparing to intensify their pursuit of Real Betis winger Luiz Henrique, and could make an official bid over the coming week…

What’s the word?

On Tuesday, it was reported by the Daily Mail’s Dominic King that Villa boss Unai Emery had failed with a club-record £45m bid for Athletic Bilbao’s prodigious young star Nico Williams, with the player reluctant to leave Basque Country, but the Premier League outfit’s hierarchy has consequently turned attention to Henrique.

King’s report followed to confirm that Emery would not be deterred in his pursuit of a top-class flanker to aid the side’s resurgence, with a fee of £20m likely required to prise him away from the Heliopolitans.

And now, speaking to GIVEMESPORT, transfer insider Dean Jones has speculated on the situation, affirming his belief that Emery would be well-advised to make a move for Henrique over Williams, regardless of the latter’s refusal to switch allegiances.

Jones said: “To be honest if Villa have Luiz Henrique as a backup option, I feel he is better suited to the Premier League anyway [compared to Williams] and they should go down that route.

“I have been very impressed with the way he makes things happen and I know a couple of other Premier League clubs have been scouting him.”

Grealish 2.0

When Jack Grealish departed Villa Park for dominant Premier League champions Manchester City in a British record £100m deal in 2021, even the most fruitful thinkers among the claret support would have scoffed at an apt replacement falling into the club’s clutches any time soon.

The 27-year-old Grealish’s qualities are so distinctive, his graceful dribbling so enigmatic and adroit, that the mere fact he graced the pitch in the Midlands for so many years has been enough to leave supporters’ hunger sated.

All that could change in the blink of an eye should technical director Johan Lange manage to pull off a coup for Betis’ Brazilian gem Henrique, who has only subsisted on the European scene since last summer, when he left homeland outfit Fluminense for pastures new.

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And having made 17 starts for his La Liga outfit, scoring three goals and five assists, the 22-year-old is swiftly asserting himself along the most talented prospects playing in the country, with his marvellous blend of skill and disruptive Grealish-esque dribbling dumbfounding hapless defenders.

There is something about the way Henrique runs with the ball, like a swan gliding gracefully through water, but with a vicious innate knack for breaking down opposition and darting from angle to angle in a captivating tussle of energy.

As per FBref, he currently makes 1.77 dribbles per game over the past year, and should he up the output he will indeed be a deadly force on the ball; Grealish, comparatively, makes 1.64 dribbles per match, which is intriguing considering the calibre of his gliding gait on the pitch.

Hailed as “characterful” and “thrilling” by reporter Graham Hunter, the starlet is an edge-of-your-seat sort of sensation, capable of leaving scores of supporters in pandemonium with his exploits on the field.

This natural sheen of stardom is indeed very much reminiscent to Grealish, and if the current Betis gem can maintain his expansive growth, he could emulate a Midlands icon who recorded a Premier League average rating of 7.54 during his final term, captivating with six goals and ten assists from just 24 starts.

With Aston Villa indeed already willing to part with more than double this amount for Williams, a deal simply must be concluded to continue the ascension towards prominence; Grealish will be reborn in Aston once again.