Why Aston Villa must hijack Arsenal's €50m move for Pedro Neto alternative

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • Updated: 12 Feb 2024 10:57 GMT
  • 4 min read
Pedro Neto, Arsenal, Aston Villa, 2023/24

Arsenal have reportedly identified Athletic Club winger Nico Williams as the perfect alternative to Wolves’ Pedro Neto as they look to sign a new forward this summer.

Mikel Arteta’s side have been heavily linked with purchasing a centre-forward in 2024, with Ivan Toney top of their wish-list, but the Gunners are also keen on bolstering their options out wide.

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Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard and Reiss Nelson are currently the four out-and-out wingers available to Arteta, however Arsenal evidently aren’t yet satisfied.

FootballTransfers understand that Manchester City are also interested in Neto and plan on rivalling Arsenal for his signature this summer, although the imminent arrival of Savio could potentially end their interest in the Portuguese star.

However, Arsenal are also targeting a move for Williams, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea too. According to Fabrizio Romano, both London clubs have scouted the Spain international, although a move to the Emirates Stadium has been touted as more likely by multiple publications.

Despite this, data analytics experts SciSports believe that Aston Villa must hijack Arsenal’s potential move for Williams this summer.

Nico Williams to Aston Villa?

Williams, 21, has a reported €50 million release clause in his current contract at Athletic Club, which is why there is a high chance he leaves this summer.

Multiple clubs across Europe are interested in wrapping up a deal for this price, including Unai Emery’s Villa, who have been linked with a move for several months.

Nico Williams, Athletic Club
© IMAGO - Nico Williams, Athletic Club

In October, GiveMeSport even reported that Williams was “intrigued” by the Aston Villa project and could be open to a move if he leaves Athletic.

The Midlands-based side are currently fifth in the Premier League table after their loss to Manchester United, and still have a chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

As a result, bolstering their squad will be a necessity this summer and Williams would be the perfect signing.

Although Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey already share minutes down the right wing and as a second striker next to Ollie Watkins, Williams could be an excellent option on the left.

As things stand, Emery has mostly deployed a central midfield on the left flank - either John McGinn, Youri Tielemans or Jacob Ramsey - but having an option like Williams could be vital next year if Villa become too predictable.

His pace and trickery are top notch and he could fix any right-sided bias currently present at Villa Park. With Bailey or Diaby on the right, Villa often look to find their feet to face up a defender 1v1, while their attack methods down the left are slightly different and involve overlapping runs from Alex Moreno or Lucas Digne.

Adding Williams would provide more diversity on the left wing and provide Emery with another attacking talent with bundles of ability.

Nico Williams' best transfer destinations, according to SciSports

ClubClub Fit Score
1. Aston Villa77
2. Inter76
3. Newcastle75
4. West Ham74
5. Real Madrid73
15. Chelsea68
47. Arsenal58

SciSports rank Villa as Williams’ best-suited club, while Inter Milan, Newcastle United and West Ham United would also be great destinations.

Chelsea rank as a better option than Arsenal, although joining either club wouldn’t provide game time assurances given the attacking riches available to Mauricio Pochettino and Arteta.

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