By Jonty Banks

4th Apr, 2023 | 2:10pm

Aston Villa could breed the next Raphinha after academy three-way merger

Aston Villa owner Nassef Sawiris will hope the new three-way merger of the club’s academy will help to breed the next generation of young talent in the West Midlands.

The club announced a three-way partnership with Portugal’s Vitoria Sport Clube and Egypt’s Zed FC. Vitoria, which are both part-owned by Sawiris through his Eden Sports business and his brother Naguib.

Vitoria Sport Clube in Portugal has helped a host of renowned players on their journey to the world stage, with Barcelona winger Raphinha coming through the Vitoria B team and Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira and even Nuno Espirito Santo rising through their youth ranks.

On the merger, Sawiris said: “I am very proud to be part of the announcement for the three-way collaboration between ZED’s Academy, Vitória Sport Clube and Aston Villa. [AVFC, 3 April]

“This three-way partnership should benefit all three parties and create a clear roadmap for talented young Egyptian players to integrate into the global sports system.”

Aston Villa already possesses one of the wealthiest and most highly regarded academies in the country, with the Bodymoor Heath set-up rivalling Chelsea’s Cobham Training Centre.

In recent years the likes of Jack Grealish, Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka have risen the ranks to become successes in English football, and the club seemingly want to continue this impressive trend.

Under Unai Emery, the club are eyeing future European football, and any successful team of this stature require a successful grassroots system beneath them.

If the Villans can produce any talent in the ilk of Raphinha through either their Portuguese or Egyptian partnerships, it would be considered a roaring success.

If such talent were to rise through the ranks, Villa would now sit in the box seat for acquiring their services, which could be a major benefit if other large clubs came snooping.

Portuguese football, in particular, has been trending in the right direction in the last five years, with the likes of Enzo Fernandez, Darwin Nunez and Joao Felix rising through the ranks there.

It has quickly become a breeding ground for world-class talent, and hopefully, Villa now have a foot in the door for any emerging academy starlets.

In other Aston Villa news, Dan Bardell believes a loanee could consider a Villa Park exit this summer if he isn’t given first-team assurances next season.