Aston Villa have set their sights on Lionel Messi after top target Emile Smith Rowe signed a new long-term contract at Arsenal.
Villa boss Dean Smith was keen to prise Smith Rowe away from the Emirates but is still confident a deal can be struck next summer.
‘We haven’t closed the door on Smith Rowe’, Dean Smith admitted to Paddy Power News.
‘He’s decided to stay on at Arsenal where he’s guaranteed first-team football and will continue his development there’.
‘We’ll revisit the situation next summer and sign him if we feel he’s ready to play for a big club like Villa’.
After missing out on the Gunners starlet, Smith instructed his board to turn their attention to Argentina’s Copa America winning captain instead.
With Barcelona struggling to stay within the boundaries of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations and Messi’s future yet to be resolved, the 50-year-old is quietly confident of getting his man.
‘All the early signs have been encouraging. For example, it’s been 15 minutes since we lodged a bid for Lionel and no one’s told us to f**k off yet’.
Asked if he believed the Barca playmaker could handle the pressure of helping Villa achieve midtable mediocrity season after season, Smith said:
‘There are some people who’d tell you Messi is just a 20-season wonder. I am not one of those people’.
Lionel Messi's picture with the Copa America trophy is now the most-liked post of all time from an athlete on Instagram 👑 pic.twitter.com/FpEsmu4TTY
— Goal (@goal) July 18, 2021
‘If he works hard and keeps his head down, there’s no reason why Lionel couldn’t be spoken about in the same breath as Gabriel Agbonlahor’.
Meanwhile, Emile Smith-Rowe admits he’s relishing the prospect of a lifetime of misery after committing his long-term future to Arsenal.
‘I had other offers on the table but when Mikel explained his vision of cementing our top 10 status and going on the odd cup run, I jumped at the opportunity’.
Smith Rowe has been given the number 10 shirt which had been vacant since Mesut Ozil stopped playing for the club sometime back in 2018.
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