Shropshire Star

Five attacking midfielders that could fit the bill for Aston Villa

Aston Villa mean business this summer, having already splashed a club-record fee for Emiliano Buendia.


If reports are to be believed, then it seems the Argentine won't be the only forward thinking player brought in at Villa Park.

With Ross Barkley's loan ending, there's clearly a sight to replace him with another attacking midfielder, especially if Buendia is used in his preferred role on the right flank.

Here are five players the club could consider for the position.

Emile Smith-Rowe

Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe scores

There was shock when Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe was linked with a move to Villa, with reports surfacing that the club had bid £25m for the youngster.

Arsenal had already missed out on a move for Buendia to Villa, and now the same club had reportedly started sniffing around one of Mikel Arteta's brightest young talents.

He was one of the London club's best performers last season, but his contract situation is likely what has got Villa thinking of a move - with only two years remaining on his deal and talk of Arsenal bolstering in his position.

He'd represent another big coup for Dean Smith's side, and follows the style of most previous acquisitions in being a young talent with room to improve (and potentially massive re-sell value).

Arsenal's situation makes it tricky, but they seem unlikely to sell - it could take a massive bid to prise him from the Emirates.

Joe Willock

Newcastle United's Joe Willock (left) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Jonny Castro Otto

If you can't get one young Gunner, why not go for another instead?

Joe Willock has barely featured in North London, but impressed massively during his recent loan spell at Newcastle United.

He scored big goals, worked hard in midfield and will now have plenty of suitors keen on seeing if Arsenal might be willing to sell.

The Magpies are likely to be right at the front of that queue given he spent the season on-loan in the north-east last time around, but could Villa maybe consider him?

Like Smith-Rowe, it would take a large sum of money to get him joining on a permanent basis, but if he can emulate his form at Newcastle he could be worth it.

Dwight McNeil

Dwight McNeil of Burnley and Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA)

Technically not an attacking midfielder, but Dwight McNeil is a signing which would fill the position, with his arrival likely to shift Jack Grealish into a central area, should it happen.

Adept on the left wing and only 21 years of age, McNeil is a player with plenty of potential.

Burnley value the youngster highly, having seen him progress through the age groups having initially been a part of Manchester United's youth set-up.

He wasn't exactly prolific for the Clarets last season though, scoring just twice whilst also logging five assists, but in a side offering more of a free-flowing attacking style he could potentially produce more.

Villa hold an interest in McNeil though, we'll just have to wait and see if they firm it up by making a serious move for him.

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse of Southampton. (AMA)

There's already concrete reports of Villa's interest in James Ward-Prowse, and it would prove quite a signing if it was to come off.

He's been utilised in all kinds of positions by Southampton previously, but he's certainly more than capable of playing in attacking midfield.

His obvious strength lies in his ability over a dead ball, but he's much more than a one trick pony.

Like with some of the other names mentioned, Southampton will not be keen to let their main man go, but if Villa offer enough cash, it could be possible to bring him in.

Regardless, the prospect of Grealish and Buendia picking up fouls and having Ward-Prowse ready to take charge of free kicks is a mouth-watering prospect.

Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek of Manchester United and Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA)

Talk about your statement signings, why not go all out and try and nab Donny van de Beek?

The Dutchman has admittedly seen his career stall following a big money move to Old Trafford, so maybe he should have a go at another club in the Premier League?

Reports suggest that United would be willing to move him on, and for a fee much lower than the one they paid for him too.

Of course, the player may well decide the Premier League isn't for him, whilst he'll certainly consider himself of the level to be playing European football (something Villa can't offer at the moment).

But if he is considering staying in England, it could be another big-time move for Villa to make.