Aston Villa bolster academy with Burchall and Feeney signings

Aston Villa’s pursuit of top academy talent continued last week with the signings of Josh Feeney from Fleetwood Town and Ajani Burchall from Bournemouth on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.

Both players are aged 16 and join Villa for “substantial fees.” The club secured the signature of 15-year-old Kyrie Pierre from Bristol Rovers in May and are expected to complete the signing of 18-year-old Tim Iroegbunam from West Brom imminently.

Burchall is a wide player who made his first-team debut for Bournemouth on December 12, becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for the club. The speedy Bermudan winger can play either on the left or the right side of attack and is expected to join the Villa under-18s.

Feeney is a central defender who captained the England under-16 side and was involved in match-day squads for League One Fleetwood Town last season. A sought-after prospect, Villa fended off interest from big-six club Manchester United to secure Feeney’s signature.

Aston Villa have become an exciting destination for academy talent in England.

Villa’s academy manager Mark Harrison said of Feeney: “He is a center-back with an awful lot of potential who had attracted a lot of interest and has also captained England at U16 level. We look forward to seeing how Josh develops over the next few years.”

Villa’s recent push to sign top-end academy talent has paid immediate dividends in the form of a 2021 FA Youth Cup title. The under-18 side that defeated Liverpool in the final in May featured the likes of Louie Barry and Lamare Bogarde, 2020 signings from Barcelona and Feyenoord, respectively.

The three fresh signings signal that Villa have become something of a destination for top young talent in England and Europe. With the likes of Jacob Ramsey, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace breaking into the first team last season, Villa can offer potential recruits both youth-team success and a pathway to league appearances.

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