Villa must find space for Chukwuemeka next season to avoid stunting progress

As transfer speculation continues to link Aston Villa with further signings this summer, Carney Chukwuemeka will hope to grow into a key role in Dean Smith’s side.

The 17-year-old emerged as the stand-out talent at youth level last season, putting in a string of impressive performances as he bagged nine goals and five assists in 25 appearances.

READ MORE: Will Guilbert emerge as solution for Smith as Villa consider depth options?

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That in turn resulted in a senior debut as he featured in the Premier League twice in the final two games of the campaign, while he was also named Academy Player of the Season after playing a pivotal role in the club’s FA Youth Cup success.

Chukwuemeka’s talent is undeniable and his potential is limitless at this stage of his career, provided that he continues to work hard on his game to improve and develop as he goes through the age groups and levels in quality.

The expectation is that he will remain with Villa this season and gain experience while putting pressure on those ahead of him in the pecking order for a starting berth. Having reported for pre-season alongside several senior players this week, the talented teenager will be hoping to have a big year.

With that in mind, Villa need to be careful in terms of overseeing his progress and development.

Villa linked with Smith Rowe, increased competition

Dean Smith has already seen the hierarchy break the club’s transfer record to sign Emiliano Buendia, while the likes of Emile Smith Rowe continue to be linked as BirminghamLive suggest that we’ll make a third bid in excess of £30m for the Arsenal star.

Should that deal happen and skipper Jack Grealish stays, that fills the roles of Smith’s attacking trio behind Ollie Watkins, with Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet all knocking on the door for opportunities as well as Jacob Ramsey.

With Ross Barkley departing, that has opened up a void that needs to be filled, and Chukwuemeka will be hoping that he’s in the mix when it comes to trying to identify a solution.

Chukwuemeka position adjustment? Chances must come

Given the level of competition though, there might perhaps be a temptation for Smith and the coaching staff to adjust his game slightly and see if he’s capable of playing in a deeper midfield role.

That would allow Chukwuemeka to offer versatility and flexibility to fill various positions when required, and in turn would give him an increased chance of more playing time.

Perhaps that will be something that is discussed and worked on in pre-season, but whether or not further reinforcements arrive in the coming weeks, Villa have a potentially special talent on their hands in Chukwuemeka, and it’s hoped that he gets the experience and minutes needed to mature and develop as a player and isn’t crowded out entirely by new faces.