Date: 3rd July 2019 at 5:31pm
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To some, Dean Smith has conceivably filled the gap left behind by former loan ace Tammy Abraham through the signing of £22m club-record transfer Wesley Moraes. Though, the buck shouldn’t stop there as they must persist in trying to add another attacking option. It is unlikely that Smith wants Scott Hogan to be part of their Premier League season having failed to break into the side during their Championship playoff winning campaign. That would leave another squad option up for grabs to someone. Villa have been linked to a player regarded as the ‘Portuguese Mbappe‘ in recent weeks and he is a player they should continue to pursue.

Rafael Leao would not only lessen the pressure on Moraes – who himself will have to adapt to English football after only ever playing in Slovakia and Belgium – but too would add a supreme talent which would potentially move Villa from being in a relegation battle to mid-table or better hopefuls. At just the tender age of 20, Leao scored eight goals in 26 appearances as Lille finished runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain. With much of the spotlight hanging on teammate Nicolas Pepe, who himself has been linked to a number of Premier League clubs this summer, Leao’s influence mustn’t be overlooked. He’s able to play up front on his own displaying his impressive strength and pace attributes – similar in some ways to Abraham.

The 20-year-old is a product of the Sporting CP academy where he was regarded as the ‘best player in the history of the academy’ by his former mentor Tiago Fernandes – that’s even including Cristiano Ronaldo and much of Portugal’s 2016 European Championship winning squad. His time at Sporting ended in shocking circumstances after a group of intruders stormed training one day and attacked the staff and players. As a result, he followed many key players at the club in terminating his contract. The unfortunate order of events ultimately enabled Lille to snatch the highly-rated prospect on a freebie. Fans were able to see exactly why they signed the youngster only two games into his spell after he bagged the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Caen.

Villa would face stern competition from Premier League rivals Everton who themselves are chasing a striker. Marco Silva’s link to the Ligue 1 ace is very clear to see as both hail from the same country, Portugal. The club also have a number of players with similar backgrounds in Andre Gomes (Portugal-born) and Richarlison (Portuguese-speaking) which would help Leao transition into the first-team setup. It is thought that Lille would be after €30m (£26.9m) for their top prospect which would smash the recent record fee paid by Villa – breaking that record twice in one window shouldn’t put Smith off with the club’s new wealth of riches.

 

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