Photo by MARCELO ENDELLI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Aston Villa have made contact with River Plate over a potential deal for Julian Alvarez but it’s far from certain the Argentina international will end up in the Premier League, as reported by The Athletic. 

While it would be inaccurate to describe Dean Smith’s side as a ‘one-man army’ – no team containing the talents of John McGinn, Ezri Konsa, Ollie Watkins and co should be labelled thus – it’s fair to say a Villa XI with Jack Grealish and a Villa XI without Jack Grealish are very different beasts. 

The Midlands giants were dark horses for a European place before their talismanic captain suffered that fateful injury against Brighton and Hove Albion in February.

By the time Grealish returned to action three months later, those continental aspirations had gone up in smoke.

Aston Villa won just a quarter of the 12 games they played without their home-grown hero. 

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The £33 million, club-record arrival of Emi Buendia from Norwich City should go a long way to easing the creative burden on Grealish’s shoulders. Buendia produced 15 goals and 17 assists during his final season at the Canaries. 

But Buendia is unlikely to be the only new attacker introducing himself to Watkins and co at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground this summer. 

Will Julian Alvarez join Buendia at Aston Villa?

Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

The likes of Mehdi Zerkane and Todd Cantwell have been linked, along with Emile Smith Rowe. Meanwhile, Calciomercato reported this week that Aston Villa are set to hold talks with the agent of 21-year-old River Plate winger Julian Alvarez. 

The Athletic adds Villa have indeed expressed an interest, holding initial talks with River Plate.

As it stands, however, a deal is far from imminent. The Athletic is at pains to point out Villa have yet to step up their interest in Alvarez, who has also been linked with Juventus, Ajax and West Ham United. 

The reaction from River Plate supporters to his potential departure speaks volumes about the ability of a man whose speed, skill and drive would give Aston Villa a different sort of presence on the right-hand side of Dean Smith’s attack. 

Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

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