Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley has emerged as a summer target for Aston Villa, according to The Sun.
The 26-year-old has been a key figure for the Reds this season. He has already scored seven league goals, as well as racking up seven assists.
It’s been a chaotic couple of weeks at the City Ground following the managerial change, and Lolley’s form seems to have dipped as a result. He has only scored once in his last 12 appearances, coming in the win against Wigan last weekend.
There’s no doubt that bringing Lolley to the club last January was one of Aitor Karanka’s best moves. Not many people had heard of him when he arrived for just £500,000 from Huddersfield. However, he’s proved to be one of the best signings the Reds have made in recent years.
Following their 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City yesterday, Martin O’Neill’s side now find themselves five points off the play-offs. It seems highly unlikely that they will be competing in the Premier League next season at this stage.
Taking this into account, it may be extremely difficult for the Reds to fend off interest in their main assets this summer.
Could Lolley be replacement for Jack Grealish?
In The Sun‘s report, it states that Villa are looking at signing Lolley as a potential replacement for Jack Grealish. If Villa fail to win promotion to the top flight themselves this season, then it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to hold onto Grealish for any longer.
According to Alan Nixon of The Sun, the Villans tried to strike a deal for Lolley last month before the window slammed shut. However, Forest’s asking price was too high for them to go ahead. It will be interesting to see if they reignite their interest in the summer.
Villa tried before deadline. Forest wanted too much. One to be watched for summer. https://t.co/DhqQO7PEuj
— Alan Nixon (@reluctantnicko) February 3, 2019
It’s no surprise that Dean Smith is interested in Lolley after the winger’s performance in the 5-5 draw at Villa Park back in November. Lolley picked up four assists as well as scoring a superb goal in a sensational individual performance.
Together with the fact Lolley is a fan of the club, it’s easy to see why he is high on their list of potential replacements for Grealish.
Lolley is a matchwinner
However, an aspect of this rumour that doesn’t make much sense is that the two players play in completely different positions. Lolley has been mainly utilised as a left winger this season, whilst Grealish plays in central midfield.
Perhaps Villa aren’t planning on signing Lolley as a direct replacement for Grealish? Instead, they may just be looking for another player who can win a match by himself. Without Grealish, Smith’s side may miss the sort of spark that Lolley could provide, albeit from a different area of the pitch.
In this case, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Lolley did move on in the summer but it would be a bitter pill to swallow. It’s probably more likely that he would make a move to the Premier League though, rather than Villa Park.
It remains to be seen what happens between now and the end of the season. However, things must improve at the City Ground to prove to Lolley that he’s better off staying where he is.