Why Iling-Junior Is The Perfect Foil To Help Villa In Their Debut Champions League Season
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Why Iling-Junior Is The Perfect Foil To Help Villa In Their Debut Champions League Season

25/06/24 11:02

For many, Aston Villa losing Douglas Luiz to Juventus could be seen as a huge blow as they prepare for life in the Champions League.

But you could argue that signing 20 year old, English wing-back Samuel Iling-Junior is a shrewd signing and in my opinion, can help Unai Emery continue in his magnificent work as The Villans boss.

Iling-Junior hasn’t had a boring start to his career and it is vital to remember he is still just 20.

For a boy born in Islington, who spent 9 years at Chelsea’s Academy, Samuel rejected an athletic sponsorship deal at the club to seek pastures new to try to accelerate his development and challenge himself.

After attracting interest from a host of clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the 16 year old opted to join The Old Lady.

Just 6 months after joining, covid struck and if Iling-Junior was looking for a challenge, this was certainly it, but he took the time to imbed himself further into the culture and is now fluent in Italian.

Later that year, he was included in The Guardian’s list of the 60 best young talents in the world born in 2003 and a few weeks later made his Champions League debut, assisting two goals in 20 minutes to help Juventus back into the game against Benfica.

Since then he has won the U19 European Championship with England and more recently the Coppa Italia.

This last season he made 24 appearances for Juventus in Serie A so what can he bring to Unai Emery’s side?

Whilst his recent record hasn’t shown it, Iling-Junior has an eye for goal and from that left-hand side, he will certainly add a new string to their bow. Samuel scored 4 goals in 7 appearances for Juventus Next Gen resulting in his promotion to the first team.

With his ability to play anywhere down that side, he can replace both Alex Moreno and Lucas Digne – Moreno looks likely to move back to his former club, Real Betis. Whilst Digne would be viewed by many as a player with fantastic delivery, a record of just 1 goal and 3 assists in the Premier League last season is nothing to shout home about, especially when they have the prolific Watkins upfront.

Iling-Junior possesses fantastic pace as well and with Emery’s quick counter-attacking style, the thought of Watkins, Iling-Junior and Diaby or Bailey on the counter-attack is incredibly dangerous and will scare teams at any level.

Michele Neri from Eurosport Italy compares Iling-Junior to Rafael Leao saying

“He has a great sense for dribbling and a speed from a standing start that other Juventus players do not have. In these qualities you can absolutely see shades of Rafael Leao when the AC Milan superstar was a bit younger.”

Watkins is likely to benefit from this – often Villa would play with Buendia or someone on the left of their front 3 who perhaps wasn’t the most fluent there and so with someone more natural, this should increase Aston Villa’s attacking prowess even further – they averaged 2 goals per game in the Premier League last year but with the difficulty of managing the league and Champions League this season, having the extra squad depth is going to be crucial.

Iling-Junior is also a very adapt wing-back and Allegri often played Samuel there when he was in charge. This helps Unai Emery in being fluid with his system and the potential to change formation throughout the match depending upon the match scenario.

Ange Postecoglou was interested in Iling-Junior when he joined Spurs last season and there Is no doubt he would have suited the way that Ange wants to play and so this is a fantastic coup for Villa – should the deal go ahead!

He will bring Champions League experience with him which is always crucial and a different perspective on the game having been in Italy for the past 4 years.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Andrew Boughton

Football Writer

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