Aston Villa’s Mark Harrison appointment is the best business they’ll do this summer

Aston Villa’s academy in recent years hasn’t produced the amount of talent you’d expect from a club like the Villans.

Not since the days of their NextGen winning team in 2013 have many players been able to make a breakthrough.

Jack Grealish stands alone as the only member of that side to now be playing in the first team with others suffering from spells on the sidelines and moves away to various other clubs.

It’s rare in modern football that a young player is able to make the step up from youth level to senior level but the fact only one player made the grade from that squad will surely have been a cause for concern.

It would be wrong to suggest the club are in a poor place when it comes to their academy, but since that NextGen victory six years ago, things haven’t gone to plan.

As a result, the appointment of Mark Harrison, West Brom’s former academy boss, could be game-changing.

In many senses, this has the potential to be the best work Villa do all summer.

Forget the recruitment they do ahead of a return to the Premier League, Harrison represents a figure that could have a greater impact on the football club than any new member of playing staff does.

That’s not to say the likes of Jota, Anwar El Ghazi, Wesley and Kortney Hause won’t have a vital say over the course of the season, but in terms of building a far healthier future, Harrison will be pivotal.

This is an individual that’s developed some of the finest young talents to come out of the Hawthorns. He’s helped to grow the likes of Izzy Brown, Rekeem Harper, Jonathan Leko and Villa linked Kemar Roofe.

Consequently, this appointment should be met with a sense of intrigue, especially for teenager Jacob Ramsey.

The 18-year-old is one of the brightest talents coming through at youth level at the moment and is someone fans may remember for achieving his first-team debut back in February.

Playing a brief 29-minute cameo, the attacking midfielder was introduced during their 2-0 defeat to West Brom but didn’t really have sufficient time to impact proceedings.

However, those sorts of appearances could now become a more regular thing for the young stars of Villa.

A number of West Brom academy graduates made an impression on the first team last season and the Villa Park faithful only need to glance over at their Midlands rivals for a sign of things to come.

This could well be the best move they make all summer.

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