Aston Villa boss Unai Emery made a major decision in the January transfer window as the Spaniard allowed Danny Ings to join Premier League rivals West Ham United for £15m.

The English centre-forward had scored six goals in eight top-flight starts for the Villans this season, after managing seven in 22 last term, prior to his exit.

However, his impressive goal return was not enough to convince the manager that the striker had a long-term future at Villa Park and the Hammers swooped in to rescue him last month.

Who could replace Danny Ings at Aston Villa?

Emery opted against bringing in an experienced number nine to take the gem’s place and, instead, signed teenage attacker Jhon Duran from MLS side Chicago Fire.

The 19-year-old, who can play through the middle or out wide, scored eight goals in 27 MLS appearances in 2022 and could be a future star if the dynamo can adapt to life in England and develop into a regular goalscorer in the years to come.

He has scored 17 goals in 79 senior outings in his career and this does not suggest that the January signing is a naturally prolific scorer, as Ings was for Villa.

However, Emery may already have his natural replacement for the now-West Ham star in the form of academy striker Cameron Archer – who is currently on loan at Middlesbrough in the Championship.

How is Cameron Archer performing for Middlesbrough?

The 21-year-old marksman has been on fire since making the move to the Riverside and caught the eye live on Sky Sports on Wednesday night with a brace against second-placed Sheffield United.

With the score level at 1-1, the youngster was first to react to a deflection in the box to thump a weak-footed effort into the roof of the net under pressure from a defender to put Michael Carrick’s side in front.

His second goal was a quick counter from Boro that ended in Archer peeling off the shoulder of the last defender before brilliantly curling the ball into the far corner beyond the goalkeeper.

The gem, who was once dubbed a “goal machine” by reporter Ryan Taylor, has now scored three goals and provided two assists in his last four Championship appearances for the second-tier outfit and this comes after he managed seven goals in 20 matches for Preston North End in the division last term.

Archer also plundered 13 goals and four assists in 13 games for Villa’s first-team and youth sides in 2021/22, including four goals in two League Cup clashes, and these statistics show that the forward is a lethal finisher.

Journalist Josh Bunting once hailed him as “clinical” and his goal return over the last 18 months backs that up.

The Englishman has scored 23 goals and provided seven assists in 47 matches in all competitions since the start of last season and this indicates that the talent could be the natural goalscorer Villa lost when they allowed Ings to depart.

Therefore, Emery could find the three-time England international’s perfect replacement by bringing the youngster back into the first-team fold to compete with Duran and Ollie Watkins next term.


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