By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

9th Jun, 2023 | 12:10pm

Sky Sports journalist predicts Finn Azaz exit at Aston Villa with teammate already wanted at Wolves

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports journalist Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

Dan Bardell believes the Aston Villa FA Youth Cup-winning side may start to break up this summer as the club continue their European push under Unai Emery.

The Young Lions won their fourth FA Youth Cup – and first since 2002 – in 2021, with the likes of Kaine Kesler-Hayden, Lamare Bogarde, Louie Barry and Carney Chukwuemeka all playing a part in the 2-1 win over Liverpool.

The Athletic reported earlier this season (13 April) that academy quartet Brad Young, Hayden Lindley, Declan Frith and Arjan Raikhy were now all expected to be released at the end of the season.

Both Wolves and Leicester City are now “jostling” for the signature of Raikhy, 20, this summer, with the midfielder already partaking in a trial at the King Power Stadium last month. [Daily Mail, 5 June]

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Bardell predicted that Villa’s top-six ambitions might have a knock-on effect on some of the club’s academy stars.

“I think the ones that are coming back from loans, Emery will want to take a look at them,” he said.

“The likes of Finn Azaz may well go, but Emery will probably want to watch him for a couple of weeks first. If you look at the break for the World Cup, Arjan Raikhy was looked at in the friendlies, he was in and around the first team.

“From training sessions and those games, Emery has obviously decided that he isn’t worth keeping on, and I do think you will start to see the breaking up of that Youth Cup-winning side now.

“There’s still a few who could come in, such as Ben Chrisene and Aaron Ramsey, and make it in the first-team, but generally, I think you will see that side start to break up, and they will move on.

“I do think Raikhy has got something whenever I have watched him play, but now Villa are looking at being a top-six team, it’s very difficult to bring those kinds of players through.”

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