Aston Villa boss Dean Smith could sign his club’s new Nobby Solano in Burnley winger Dwight McNeil.
What’s the story?
The Telegraph had recentlly claimed that Villa still have McNeil high up on their target list as they look to reinforce their squad ahead of the new Premier League season.
And now, Football Insider have suggested that the Midlands club will turn their attentions towards the England U21 international if they can’t get a deal done for Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe.
It’s said that: “A Villa source has told Football Insider that manager Dean Smith is prioritising the capture of a versatile forward capable of operating in various positions across the attack.
“Villa are willing to pay a major fee for McNeil and are expected to submit a bid if they don’t land Smith Rowe.”
Villa’s new Solano
In a piece by The Birmingham Mail back in March on wingers that Villa fans loved to watch, it said of Solano: “Despite being at Villa for just 18 months, he was both player-of-the-season and top scorer, albeit it with eight goals, during his only full campaign. Arriving for £1.5 million from Newcastle in January 2004, his best form under then Villa boss David O’Leary came the following season.
“His winner in a Monday night home match against Tottenham showed off his dexterity as he worked room for an acrobatic finish in a confined six-yard box, while he also curled in a sublime free-kick equaliser against Liverpool at Villa Park and provided a sumptuous finish in a win over Portsmouth.”
And in the equally gifted McNeil, Smith could land a winger just as exciting and with an eye for goal like Solano.
The £34m-rated winger has been one of the few standout players for the Clarets since breaking onto the scene, and it’s something which has led to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp raving about him.
He said: “Dwight McNeil is such a good player, lovely left foot, doesn’t stop running. Every time I watch him he gets better and better, he’s got real quality and certainly a player that the top six to eight clubs will be looking at, and that’s no disrespect to Burnley because I don’t like saying that sometimes, but he is that good.”
With his ability to beat players one-on-one – his average of 1.8 dribbles per game in the Premier League was the highest of any Burnley player last season – McNeil could bring that same kind of flair that Solano brought to the table, with his Burnley boss Sean Dyche a big fan of his development.
He said: “He’s a real talent. He’s a really good player, he’s improving, his calmness at the end – I’m saying get it in the corner – but he cuts in, and his calmness to cross it into a dangerous area, and then gets his reward. Before then, his calmness to dribble out of trouble – he’s a really good player, really good, and he can only mature.”
And like Solano, he can really strike the ball from distance, with four out of his seven Premier League strikes coming from outside the box according to Understat (only one has come inside the six-yard area).
With a penchant for the spectacular – his long-range stunner against Everton is a testament to that – McNeil could be the kind of exciting winger that Solano was at Villa Park.