Aston Villa are reportedly in “pole position” to sign Dwight McNeil from Burnley according to the Liverpool Echo.
Everton are also admirers of the 21-year-old winger, though it’s believed Villa are leading the race for his signature.
The Echo claims McNeil could be had for a cut-rate price of around £25 million, but BirminghamLive’s Ashley Preece suggests a potential fee would instead “smash [Villa’s] club record fee” of £33 million. Burnley valued the player at £50 million last summer.
The former Manchester United academy product joined Burnley’s youth set up in 2014 and has scored seven times in 96 appearances for The Clarets since breaking into the first team in 2018.
Signing McNeil would signal Villa’s intent to move Jack Grealish centrally.
McNeil plays as a left winger for Burnley, and his proposed signing for Villa would signal Dean Smith’s intent to move Jack Grealish from the left into the middle to play behind Ollie Watkins in the number 10 role.
Villa have reportedly been in the market for another attacking player though it was initially believed that the club was chasing a central attacking midfielder. They’ve placed at least two bids for Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe over the past month but reported interest in McNeil suggests Villa are more than warm to the idea of moving Grealish centrally.
Extensive groundwork has been done by Villa on Dwight McNeil according to @greggevans40👀
— PGR (@pgr_analytics) May 29, 2021
The Athletic’s Gregg Evans claimed in late May that Villa had interest in McNeil and are be open to shifting Grealish inside. Like Grealish, McNeil is far from a prolific goalscorer, instead known for his ability to create chances and maintain possession. It would likely be a seamless transition.
Grealish’s ascendancy over the past two years has come after Smith moved him to the left side of the attack. Most fans and pundits alike would agree left wing is his best position, but if a prime candidate to fill the open number 10 role fails to emerge before the summer transfer window closes, then sliding Grealish inside to make room for McNeil could be the next best thing.