Aston Villa suffered a huge blow this summer when their talisman and captain Jack Grealish left for Manchester City. The club, however, received a huge transfer fee and have put it to good use since, signing major players like Danny Ings, Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, and Ashley Young. Now, with just over a week to go until the end of the transfer window, manager Dean Smith is looking to make one final signing to strengthen his squad further in a bid to challenge for the European spots this season.
Reports have emerged that the Birmingham-based club is pushing to sign talented Dutch youngster Abdou Harroui from Sparta Rotterdam. The 23-year-old prospect has been linked with a move away from the club for some time now, with Nottingham Forest and Italian club Atalanta also said to be in a race to sign him. With the transfer deadline getting ever so close, a deal could be closed in the next few days.
WHY IS ASTON VILLA PUSHING FOR ABDOU HARROUI?
Dean Smith is assembling an impressive squad at Villa Park, a squad that can challenge for European qualification despite losing their star player. He has added a lot of depth, but has not compromised on quality. Ings and Young are experienced and Premier League proven players, while Bailey and Buendia had excellent last seasons before joining Villa. With all signings so far of attacking intent, Smith is looking for a midfielder who can provide defensive cover, while also providing competition in the squad for the likes of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz.
Aston Villa previously had eyes on Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse, but their bid for the player was knocked back by the Saints and they had to look elsewhere. There have been glowing reports of the young Abdou Harroui which seems to have caught Smith and his team’s eye.
A versatile midfielder, Abdou Harroui can play in a number of positions, including as a box-to-box mid and even on the wing. For much of last season he had been deployed in the holding midfield position by Sparta, and he seems to have made that role his own. He brings composure to the midfield and does not panic under pressure. He can keep the ball fairly well which is an important quality to have in a Premier League side, where opponents like to get in your face and pressurize you to make mistakes.
The Dutchman enjoyed a pretty decent 20/21 campaign, scoring 6 times and giving 3 assists for Sparta Rotterdam, while also being a crucial part of the U-21 Netherlands side which reached the European u21 Championship in the summer. His defensive contributions are very strong and his report suggests that he is very good at tackling and winning the ball back. While he is sound defensively, he has managed to add an attacking dimension to his game as well and has worked on his dribbling skills. His quick feet help him get past opponents and his long balls are surprisingly accurate.
With Villa playing a formation of 4-2-3-1, he will fit in perfectly in the two midfield positions, supplying the side with defensive cover, which allows McGinn and others to get up the pitch freely. Harroui has the ability to pick out a player from the deep and his long shots, like those of McGinn, add that extra bit of attacking intent to Dean Smith’s side. Still only 23, he has his best years ahead of him and can be a mainstay in the Villa midfield for years to come.
If Villa were to sign him this summer, they will need to act quickly, with many reports suggesting that Nottingham Forest are gaining in the race to sign Harroui. Valued at just £2.5 million, Abdou Harroui would be a steal for any club that manages to sign him.