Despite a double from Trézéguet securing three points for the Villans over the weekend, Dean Smith’s men are still struggling to escape the grasp of relegation.
The Midlands giants sit in 19th place, four points from safety, at the time of writing and are yet to face Everton, Arsenal and West Ham United.Embed from Getty Images
Relegation to the Championship can be detrimental for top-flight clubs trying to keep a team together and often results in them losing their star players.
For Aston Villa, not only are they facing their prospect of losing their star player. He is also their captain, hero and one of few Villa players to rise from their academy.
As Jack Grealish persists to be linked with the giants of English football, here are three players Villa could buy to replace him if they go down.
Eberechi Eze | 22 | Queens Park Rangers | EnglandEmbed from Getty Images
QPR midfielder Eberechi Eze is one of the brightest talents coming out of the Championship right now. The Londoner joined the club from Millwall as a teenager and began to establish himself in the first team before he turned 20.
Eze, who plays for England’s U21s, has a similar playing style to Grealish but exceeds the Villa man when it comes to goals and assists. The QPR star has scored 12 and assisted eight goals this term, becoming his side’s talisman in the process. Grealish managed six goals and six assists in his last Championship season when Villa were promoted.
Eberechi Eze has the ability to glide past defenders and give the impression the ball is stuck to his feet, much like Grealish. He also has an eye for a pass, completing 1.7 key passes per 90 minutes this season. He also completes three dribbles per game – almost double what Grealish put up in 18/19.
Villa would have to put a fight to fend off Premier League rivals for Eze’s signature should they move for him in the window. However, he knows the division and would be easily adaptable to a free-flowing Championship Villa side.
Arnór Sigurðsson | 21 | CSKA Moscow | IcelandEmbed from Getty Images
A lesser-known star with similar attributes to Jack Grealish is 21-year-old Iceland midfielder Arnór Sigurðsson. The youngster, who joined the Russians from Norrköping in Sweden, dreams of playing for Arsenal so the Birmingham club may be a great stepping stone.
The Icelandic attacker is great at breaking through defences and getting out of tight spaces. Despite having no English football experience, these traits should help him adapt to a fast-paced, physical Championship.
Sigurðsson has also scored four goals and assisted twice but is always involved in build-up play and knows when to make a pass and when to take a bold shot from outside the box.
Sigurðsson is a greater risk than Eze but may prove a cheaper option and Dean Smith has a reputation to squeezing quality out of cheaper players from his time at Brentford. It is clear that Villa’s excessive spending hasn’t seen results improve this season, so building a team with more structure on a smaller budget could be key.
Bradley Dack | 26 | Blackburn Rovers | EnglandEmbed from Getty Images
A safe and experienced option to fill the void left by Grealish would be Blackburn talisman Bradley Dack. The 26-year-old Londoner, who joined Rovers from Gillingham in 2017, excels in a free role behind a strike partnership or loan striker.
He is blessed with impeccable timing, often breaking into the box late to get on the end of a pass. He is also renowned for scoring from distance and, not only that, racking up a remarkable 33 goals in his first two seasons in Lancashire.
The Englishman suffered an ACL injury in December and is set to be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. However, when he returns to full fitness, Dean Smith could pounce on the midfielder who could be Villa’s star man (and a much needed source of goals) in the second tier.