Arsenal take on Barcelona for Aston Villa wonderkid labeled ‘Best in England’
The Aston Villa midfielder was described as “England’s best 16-year-old footballer” by club CEO Christian Purslow in 2020 and has since become a Premier League star.
Image: Athena Pictures/Getty Images)
Arsenal and Barcelona are both interested in signing Aston Villa midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka, according to reports.
The 18-year-old is an England U19 international – winning eight caps so far – and was part of the Villa side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2020-21. He has played 19 senior games so far, including 11 in the Premier League this season.
Chukwuemeka, who joined Villa’s academy from Northampton Town in 2016, is eligible to play for England, Austria and Nigeria at international level and has been described as ‘the best 16-year-old footballer in England’ by Villa CEO Christian Purslow in March 2020.
As Spanish outlet SPORT reported, Barcelona sporting adviser Jordi Cruyff and director of football Mateu Alemany met with Chukwuemeka’s representatives on Tuesday to discuss a possible transfer. It was believed that these were only initial talks.
The Gunners are also believed to be interested in signing Chukwuemeka but it will all depend on extension talks with Villa. He has just 13 months left on his current deal and Steven Gerrard’s side want to tie him down to a new long-term deal.
Villa have made a number of big-name signings since Gerrard was appointed manager in November – including Lucas Digne, Philippe Coutinho, Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos. They are looking to strengthen their squad and won’t want to lose Chukwuemeka.
Matthew Ashton – AMA)
Will Carney Chukwuemeka leave Aston Villa for Barcelona or Arsenal? Let us know in the comments below!
Chukwuemeka received many rave reviews during her blossoming career. “Chukwuemeka was very good,” Arsenal legend Paul Merson said after Villa’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Brentford in August – a game the youngster started.
“He has a bright future. I don’t see a lot of football for kids. In the first half he was exceptional. He was sliding down the pitch. 17, you play in the Premier League in the center of midfield. I mean that’s a big ask. He’ll be an absolute debut.
“He slides down the pitch. He’s a good size. He takes the ball. He looks for it and runs without the ball. I think the Villa fans who leave will definitely talk about him.”
Speaking in March 2020, Purslow explained: “Frankly, I’m going to be brutal, 22 playing in a team under 23 means your system isn’t working. It means your system has failed because 22- former Aston Villa footballers must be in the first team.
“The ultimate goal is to equip the Under-23 team with 11 exceptional players aged 16, 17 and 18, so I’ll know it works. And that will take years, not months. We have to be higher in the recruitment of the best eight-year-olds, nine-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, 16-year-olds, one per year who succeed and win a professional contract at 16.
“I want this player. We have one at the moment, probably England’s best 16-year-old player, Carney [Chukwuemeka]. Absolutely no debate, he holds for the U23s. This is what you want with your 16 years. Not people who don’t quite break into the first team, but stay with contracts because it’s not really happening.”