Smith identifies exciting £120m trio to take Villa to the next level

Emiliano Buendia, Norwich midfielder, TEAMtalk

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is reported to have identified three summer signings he believes can push his side firmly into the top half of the Premier League next season.

The Villans made satisfying progress this season after finishing 11th. However, they were unable to build on a solid start to the season that at one stage saw them threaten to make a push for the European places. And while they can take satisfaction from their mid-table finish, Smith has plans to firmly establish his side back among the top half.

To do that, Smith reportedly has his eyes on three signings he believes can take Villa to the next level.

And according to The Athletic, Villa are prioritising Burnley’s England Under-21 winger Dwight McNeil.

The 21-year-old has established himself as one of the Clarets best players in recent seasons. He joined the Burnley academy having been released at Manchester United. He’s gone on to make over 100 appearances for the club, scoring seven times and impressing with his level of technical ability.

Rated in the £40m bracket, McNeil is contracted to Turf Moor until 2024. However, it’s reported he could look to move on this summer, particularly with manager Sean Dyche also tipped to move on.

Villa are also said to be in the hunt to add more creativity to their midfield. As such, it’s claimed they are also preparing a move to bring in Norwich’s Emiliano Buendia.

The Canaries value Buendia in the £40m mark. At 24 years of age, the star has underlined his qualities in the Championship this season. He has scored 15 times and created 16 more as Norwich steamrollered their way to promotion.

Buendia was also named Championship Player of the Year in the process and has been strongly linked to Arsenal.

Speaking earlier this month, Daniel Farke claimed it would take an ‘unbelievable offer’ for Norwich to sell Buendia.

“Of course if one of the best clubs in the world wants Emi as a starter and makes an unbelievable offer then it could be a realistic solution for all parties,” said Farke.

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“But Emi is a key player and it is always our aim to make sure we keep the key players.

“It is due to the great work of Stuart Webber we have them under long term contracts.

“That means if a club wants them they have to invest an unbelievable amount of money.

“If there’s a club who want to put some crazy offers out then maybe you use this to help us in the future.

“But as a head coach my first thought is to work further on with our key players.”

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Grealish hopes to persuade Abraham to join Villa

Villa are also keen to bolster their attack and have also been linked with a move Tammy Abraham.

Abraham, 23, has fallen down the Stamford Bridge pecking order since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

The attacker is not short of admirers and has been strongly linked with Villa and West Ham. There is interest from the Bundesliga too, with Thursday’s Euro Paper Talk providing details of a potentially-exciting move.

The Hammers appear to be in the driving seat amid claims Abraham would prefer to stay in London. However, it’s reported his £40m price could prove a sticking point for David Moyes’ side.

And that could open the door up for Aston Villa to strike. The 90-goal striker has previously enjoyed a spell with Villa in the past.

Furthermore, Abraham has a close friendship with Villa talisman Jack Grealish and it’s claimed he hopes to persuade him to return.

Whether Villa fund moves for all three remains to be seen. And ultimately they may need to choose between deals for either McNeil or Buendia.

One avenue open to the triple deal, however, could come if Grealish was lured away. To that end, he’s been linked with a £100m switch to a Premier League giant.