Aston Villa could land their next Jack Grealish with exciting January move

Aston Villa are reportedly closing in on a deal to sign defender Kosta Nedeljkovic from Serbian side Red Star Belgrade and loan him back to the club for the remainder of the season.

He is only 18 and is clearly a signing for the future but this appears to be what Unai Emery is building at the club, a team which could be a consistent force in the Premier League while challenging for trophies.

It is working wonders so far this season, with summer signings Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby contributing alongside current players Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey to power the Midlands club to the heady heights of third in the table, along with progress in Europe and in the FA Cup.

Emery-Aston Villa

Could Emery perhaps make more signings during the current January transfer window? Reportedly, he is keen on a reunion with a player he used to manage during his spell as Arsenal manager.

Aston Villa’s search for another signing

Emery is currently looking to sign Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal this month and the Spaniard knows the Englishman well, having managed the club between 2018 and 2019.

Previous Villa managers have also wanted to sign the talented midfielder too, as Dean Smith reportedly made an offer of £25m in 2021 to bring him to the Midlands, yet this was turned down.

Recent reports state that the north Londoners are now willing to sell Smith Rowe to Villa and could this month finally be the time they secure his services?

Aston Villa’s previous five January signings


Jhon Duran


Alex Moreno


Lucas Digne


Calum Chambers


Philippe Coutinho


Via Transfermarkt

talkSPORT reporter Alex Crook spoke to GIVEMESPORT regarding Villa’s interest in the 23-year-old recently, saying:

“I’m keen to see what they [Arsenal] do with Smith Rowe because I think Aston Villa’s interest is still there. We know that Arsenal like Douglas Luiz, but Villa aren’t going to let him go at this moment in time because they’re competing for the top four themselves.”


A move north could reinvigorate his career, which appears to be stagnating under Mikel Arteta, and he could even emerge as another Jack Grealish figure for the club as they aim to end their 28-year trophy drought.

How Emile Smith Rowe compares to Jack Grealish

When Villa made their offer for Smith Rowe in 2021, it was actually so they could replace the current Manchester City sensation, who left Villa that summer for a staggering transfer fee in the region of £100m.

Jack Grealish’s career at Aston Villa

































Stats via Transfermarkt.

The duo not only sport the same look on the pitch – both preferring the short socks look – but they also regularly drift past opponents with their impressive dribbling style and this is something Emery needs in his current side.

According to WhoScored, the current Arsenal gem excels at finishing and holding onto the ball, while Grealish also counts holding onto the ball as one of his key strengths, yet his development has allowed him to further excel courtesy of through balls and key passes.


Give Smith Rowe time and the chance to perform at a consistent level, however, and he could shortly be alongside Grealish.

Both players possess a clear attacking threat in front of goal. Smith Howe has registered 35 goal contributions in 130 senior matches, while the City gem has played more matches – 364 games – and has scored 51 goals along with grabbing 67 assists in what has been an excellent career thus far.

Emery could give the 23-year-old his confidence back and adding a player of his talent to his squad could be a no-brainer this month. There is no doubt about it.

Emile Smith Rowe’s season in numbers

During his senior career, Smith Rowe has already missed a total of 77 matches due to a succession of injuries and this season, he has been disrupted by a knee issue which has seen him miss nine games.

This has meant the player has played only 12 times during 2023/24, registering one assist, and it is clear he isn’t able to force his way into Arteta’s starting XI often enough.

Indeed, of these 12 games, only two have been starts, and he proved he is more effective being unleashed from the first whistle, as his only assist came during his only Premier League start.


He has succeeded with 100% of his dribble attempts in the top flight during his brief spell on the pitch this term, along with winning an impressive 75% of his aerial duels. But the truth is, he hasn’t been given enough time to showcase his talents this season.

The £40k-per-week starlet needs a fresh move to live up to his vast promise and a reunion with Emery could be the ideal move.

Journalist Mark Mann-Bryans hailed the youngster as a potential “game-changer” two years ago when it looked as though he could follow Bukayo Saka from the Hale End academy into being a standout for the first team.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for the Englishman as injuries have begun to take their toll, and he could slip into the wilderness unless he makes a move away from the Emirates.

Villa are relying far too much on Ollie Watkins for goals, as the striker is currently sitting on 14 goals for the current season – five clear of anyone else – but if he gets injured, then they could be in trouble.

Smith Rowe could operate in a few different positions, yet playing just behind the striker appears to be his favoured role and the one where he can make the most difference. Also capable of playing from the left, it’s clear to see why we’re making such a comparison to the aforementioned Grealish.

If Emery is looking to finally deliver a major trophy to the Villa supporters after a near three-decade wait, adding some depth to his squad this month could be vital.

He still has a couple of weeks to bring in some more players, and if he does manage to sign the Arsenal outcast this month, it could potentially bring out the best in the midfielder who is in need of regular minutes.

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