Aston Villa youngster Arjan Raikhy has impressed this season, but fans have raved about his Pirlo-esque performance in the FA Youth Cup final this evening.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
There’s an entire community across the United Kingdom vying for the success of one of their own in the Aston Villa youth system, as Arjan Raikhy continues to impress at youth level.
Not only are the Punjabi community firmly behind the Aston Villa midfielder, but after performances like tonight’s against Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup Final, the entire Aston Villa fanbase will be looking for the South Asian to succeed too.
A key part of the opening goal, Raikhy worked well with starlet Louie Barry down the left hand side, keeping the ball in play with a deft touch before cutting onto his stronger foot and firing a ball towards the edge of the box. It found Ben Chrisene who was able to control the ball well before firing into the bottom right.
The midfielder impressed fans on social media, with some dubbing the youth side’s number 8 as the ‘Punjabi Pirlo’ as he sprayed long-range passes from central midfield, broke up play and offered piercing runs into the opposition box when the opportunity arose. At times, the number 8 was dictating the play for the side.
Arjan Raikhy also impressed earlier this year when he was tasked with facing the Liverpool senior squad in the FA Cup during Aston Villa’s COVID issues, so much so that Egyptian star Mo Salah gave the youngster his shirt following the game.
The Wolverhampton-born teenager went viral earlier this year as he scored an incredible long-range attempt against Chelsea on the half-volley.
Punjabi Villans, the popular fan group, are incredibly vocal in their support of Raikhy and it’s clear to see why. Not only does he look a tidy player, the youngster is inspiring Punjabi fans across the country and the local area – giving fans a player that “looks like us” according to group co-founder Ricky Cheema in an interview with Sky Sports.
Raikhy will be a key part in inspiring a number of other South Asian youngsters to take up football and potentially find their way into the professional game – something Aston Villa are attempting to tap into with the building of their proposed inner-city academy.
The academy plans to target young talent in the nearby catchment areas of Aston, Witton, Perry Barr, Kingstanding, Erdington, Handsworth, Nechells and so on.
The future is bright for many of the players in this squad, and certainly so for Arjan Raikhy – who was awarded the Player of the Match award by BT Sport – and was referred to as an ‘unsung hero’.
You can see Raikhy’s superb assist in the video above.