Why Leicester City should beat others to Burnley starlet Dwight McNeil
According to claims from TEAMtalk (h/t Leicestershire Live), Leicester City have been credited with an interest in Burnley starlet Dwight McNeil, who has established himself as one of the best rising wide players in the Premier League.
The 19-year-old has established himself as a regular fixture for the Clarets since the second half of the previous campaign and his impressive transition from the academy to the senior level has already drawn admiring glances from the scouts of several other Premier League clubs higher up the table.
McNeil started his development in the youth ranks at Manchester United before joining Burnley’s academy back in 2014 and caught the eye with his rapid progress at various age-group levels for the Lancashire outfit.
Apart from Leicester, Everton and Wolves have also shortlisted the Rochdale-born teenager as a potential transfer target heading into the mid-season trading period in January. (TEAMtalk, h/t Leicestershire Live)
However, McNeil, who has a contract at Turf Moor until the summer of 2023, is unlikely to be sold on the cheap by the Clarets, with the report claiming that Sean Dyche is holding out for a fee of around £30million to part ways with his influential wide player.
The youngster earned rave reviews for his tally of 3 goals and 5 assists in 21 Premier League appearances last time around and he has kicked on exactly from where he had signed off last season.
McNeil has started each of Burnley’s first eleven league fixtures this term, scoring once and setting up another three from the left-hand side of the pitch.
To put things into perspective, Leicester City look well on course for a top-six finish in the Premier League this season following an impressive start to the campaign under Brendan Rodgers and the acquisition of Dwight McNeil in January could add yet another feather to their cap.
Having inflicted an ignominious 9-0 defeat on Southampton last week, the Foxes continued their juggernaut with yet another impressive 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League this weekend, as Rodgers’ side finished Round 11 placed 3rd in the standings, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference.
With James Maddison and Youri Tielemans continuing to pull out their dissecting knives on a regular basis to torment defences, Ayoze Perez starting to hit the ground running and Jamie Vardy simply unstoppable in front of goal, the Foxes have looked like a well-oiled attacking unit.
Academy prospect Harvey Barnes has established himself as a regular down the left-hand side of the pitch this term, with Demarai Gray and Marc Albrighton providing the youngster with good enough competition.
However, McNeil’s unprecedented rise over the last ten months lie testament to his massive potential and the Burnley starlet could well prove to be an upgrade on someone like Gray, who has struggled with the quality of his end product over the course of his time at the King Power Stadium.
Blessed with an absolute wand of a left foot, the 19-year-old has impressed one and all with his proficiency in setting up goals with his pinpoint crossing from the left flank while also making his presence felt with his key passes and ability to hold on to the ball in the tight areas.
McNeil might not be as quick and direct as someone like Barnes but he has shown that he is better than the Leicester graduate when it comes to setting up goals with crosses and set-piece ability. As per whoscored, McNeil averages 1.5 crosses per game as compared to Barnes, who only averages 0.1 crosses per game.
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Suffice to say, McNeil and Barnes are really talented young wide players who excel with different sets of attributes and Leicester completing a move for the 19-year-old would improve the quality of the supply lines for Jamie Vardy to feast upon.
That said, Leicester should make Dwight McNeil a top priority heading into the January window and beating off competition from other clubs in their pursuit of the 19-year-old could pay off handsomely, as the Burnley man looks destined for greater heights in the future.