Aston Villa’s academy has produced a number of incredible young players over the years by developing local talent and turning them into first-team regulars.

The likes of Gareth Barry, Gary Cahill, Steven Davis, Jack Grealish, and Marc Albrighton all came through the youth set-up at Villa Park before going on to enjoy excellent careers in the professional game.

One player who is on his way to joining that illustrious list is attacking midfielder Jacob Ramsey, who is currently starring in the first-team for Unai Emery’s side.

The England under-21 international has been the club’s fourth-best performer in the Premier League this season, according to Sofascore, and was tenth during his breakthrough campaign last term.

Could Tommi O’Reilly be Villa’s next breakthrough star?

Villa appear to have unearthed a diamond with Ramsey and Emery could find another one by unleashing U21 midfielder Tommi O’Reilly in the coming months or seasons.

The 19-year-old dynamo, who was once described as “a proper diamond” by journalist Ashley Preece, has been likened to Manchester City’s Phil Foden in the past and could be the next young talent to come off the production line.

He has been a regular in the U21 side this season, after making the step up from the U18s last term, and has shown signs of being able to make the next step in his career – with ten goals and four assists in 51 matches from central midfield for the academy sides.

His performances for the 18s and 21s have led to Preece also describing him as the youth team’s “star man”, whilst the reporter also claimed that the gem was “unplayable” and “running the show” against West Brom last month.

In the EFL Trophy earlier this season, O’Reilly showcased his ability against senior opposition by creating 1.7 chances per match and winning 53% of his duels, whilst assisting one goal, in three appearances, per Sofascore.

Meanwhile, no Villa player has created more than 1.3 opportunities per game in the Premier League this season and Douglas Luiz (1.3) is the only gem with more than 1.0 key passes per outing for the club.

This suggests that O’Reilly, who only turned 19 in December, has the potential to provide the creativity that Emery’s side are currently lacking if the gem can adapt to senior football and translate his form in the EFL Trophy, and at youth level, to the first-team.

Therefore, the Spanish head coach could unearth the club’s next diamond by unleashing the ‘unplayable’ teenage talent, whether that comes before the end of this season or in pre-season in the summer with a view to bringing him into the fold in 2023/24.


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