Niall Mason in action for Doncaster Rovers
Aston Villa's Niall Mason has experienced a rather unique pathway to first team football.
The talented 20-year-old first shot to prominence in 2004, following his attendance at a football camp whilst on holiday in Spain. Mason, then just seven years of age, was identified by European giants Real Madrid and was soon signed to their academy - making him Britain's youngest Galactico at the club alongside David Beckham (who reportedly visited Mason with regularity during their time in Madrid) and later Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate.
Britain's biggest Galactico, David Beckham, often spoke with Mason during their time together at Real Madrid
Mason's three years at the Bernabeu ended in 2007, as the youngster's family moved to Qatar. After joining the youth programme at Al Sadd, Mason returned to England in 2010 to continue his development at Blackburn Rovers and then Southampton - before Villa signed the by-now-nomadic Mason to his first professional contract in 2015.
Fast forward two years and Mason is currently starring for Doncaster Rovers of League Two. The season long loan move to the Keepmoat Stadium has proved to be of huge benefit to Mason - who has featured in 31 league games to date, helping Donny to soar to the top of the table in the process.
Could Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce utilise Mason next season?
After playing across the defence and in midfield throughout Rovers' promotion push, Mason has certainly shown his versatility this season - a facet that could be of particular use to Villa boss Steve Bruce as he plots his own promotion quest to the Premier League in 2017-18.
Bruce, a coach not afraid to deviate from a set-system, may consider Mason's positional flexibility, quality on the ball and new-found resilience from his time in League Two, as outstanding assets to possess within his Villa squad next season.
Should Villa put their faith in Mason, one of a number of talented youngsters on the books of the club?
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