By Graham Hill
VILLA are reportedly interested in signing Charlton Athletic midfielder Joe Aribo.
Football League World stats that Dean Smith is interested in the 22-year-old who has helped Lee Bowyer’s side to the League One Play-off Final.
Villa scouts are said to be heading to Wembley 24 hours before the Championship final against Derby County to watch Aribo in action against Sunderland.
Aribo has scored 10 goals and provided five assists this season to make him potentially one of the rising stars of the game.
Arsenal and Manchester City have been mentioned in connection with the player – so Villa would face tough competition if they were to take their interest further. German clubs are also interested with Bundesliga side now looking at English talent.
It has been suggested Aribo could be a replacement for Jack Grealish if he leaves for Tottenham this summer.
But promotion would see Villa looking to keep Grealish and build a Premier League side around him.
Even if Grealish stays though, Smith will need new recruits in midfield – and owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris are likely to flex their considerable financial muscle.
So Aribo could be a target even if Grealish stays put. Significantly, the player’s Charlton contract runs out this summer and he has yet to sign a new deal. Much could depend on Sunday’s result at Wembley – but expect Villa to move for players such as this if they beat Derby.