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If Aston Villa had a player like Matheus Pereira capable of stepping in for the absent Jack Grealish, would Dean Smith’s side still be in contention for a European place with four Premier League games remaining?

Such a question is, of course, hypothetical. 

But anyone who has watched the claret and blues limp through the past two months as their Captain Marvel watches on from the sidelines in a collection of groovy jackets, will tell you Villa without Grealish is like the Red Hot Chili Peppers without John Frusciante.  

Still decent – but not quite the same. 

Daniel Ek Buys Arsenal PART 2 | Football Manager 2021 Experiment

Daniel Ek Buys Arsenal PART 2 | Football Manager 2021 Experiment
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With Norwich City duo Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia linked with summer moves, the signs suggest finding a number ten – someone capable of easing the creative burden on Grealish – is Aston Villa’s top priority in the summer transfer window.   

The Athletic threw Pereira’s name into the frame in late April too, reporting Villa could look to raid Midlands neighbours West Bromwich Albion for the £9 million Brazilian.  

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And while the Baggies dropped out of the Premier League last night – Arsenal stamping on Sam Allardyce’s fingers as the Baggies finally lost their grip and tumbled down the trapdoor – Pereira proved, once again, he deserves to stay in the big time. 

The former Sporting Lisbon man not only scored a brilliant individual goal, racing from inside his own half before finishing in style, he also had Bernd Leno flying across his goal with a pair of left-footed thumpers and whipped in an inch-perfect cross Mbaye Diagne failed to make the most of.

West Brom will be a Championship team in 2021/22. But surely Pereira won’t be a Championship player.

Here’s what some Aston Villa fans had to say on Twitter about the situation:

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In other news, ‘Enormous driving force’: Coach thinks Celtic have an ‘outstanding’ player