Aston Villa will try to sign Burnley’s Dwight McNeil if they are unable to land Emile Smith Rowe, according to Football Insider.
What’s the latest transfer news at Villa?
It is understood that Villa are set to make a third bid for Smith Rowe after having their two previous proposals turned down by Arsenal.
Reports claim that the Villans’ third offer will be worth more than £32m as they continue to try to tempt Smith Rowe away from the Emirates.
However, if they are knocked back once again by Arsenal, Villa do have a back-up plan in place – to go after McNeil.
Has Villa’s interest in McNeil come out of the blue?
Not at all.
It seems that they are still keen on the winger, and they are believed to be willing to pay a major fee to sign McNeil if a deal for Smith Rowe cannot be agreed with Arsenal.
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What’s been said about McNeil?
Smith Rowe has proven his versatility in recent months, operating out wide or through the middle for Mikel Arteta’s side.
McNeil, who is valued at £19.8m by Transfermarkt, is also capable of playing in multiple positions, and he received praise from Sean Dyche last year after putting in an encouraging performance when playing in a No. 10 role for Burnley.
As quoted by the Burnley Express, Dyche said of McNeil: “He’s a very adaptable player, and it looked like he enjoyed it.
“It is certainly a massive benefit for young players to learn how to do that. When you are young, to find a consistency in your performances across a number of games is difficult.
“People forget there is a consistency within a performance, doing the right things as much as you can all of the time.”
Would McNeil be a good alternative to Smith Rowe?
It could be argued that McNeil is more proven than Smith Rowe at the highest level at this stage.
The 6 foot wide man has been a regular in the Burnley team over the last two-and-a-half years, whereas Smith Rowe only broke into Arsenal’s Premier League line-up in the final week of 2020. Therefore, in terms of top-flight experience, McNeil has the upper hand.
McNeil has also been very consistent in recent years, registering at least five assists in each of the last three Premier League seasons, and he actually received a higher average WhoScored rating than Smith Rowe this season (6.87 to 6.77).
Bearing all these factors in mind, McNeil could be an excellent alternative to Smith Rowe for Villa.