By Michael Brown

29th Dec, 2020 | 9:00am

Exclusive: Top pundit drops intriguing Smith & Shakespeare reveals about Villa 25-yr-old

Michael Brown has hailed the “magnificent” Anwar El Ghazi for his goal as a swaggering Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Boxing Day. 

The ex-Spurs, Sheffield United and Leeds man spoke exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs as he praised the quality of El Ghazi’s fifth of the season, a twisting strike from a difficult angle made all the more satisfying as it cracked in off the woodwork.

The Dutchman has now scored three in Villa’s last four matches, against Wolves, West Brom and now Palace respectively.

Brown was in awe, not only of the purity of the strike, but the strength of character El Ghazi has shown over the course of the last two matches to regain his confidence following a display against Burnley described as “wasteful” by The Sun and “frustrating” by The Independent.

Brown, who was on punditry duties for the BBC that evening, told Football Insider: “Dean Smith told me his training in how he executes those finishes is there for all to see.

“Craig Shakespeare then backed him straight up when I ran into him later, he just said ‘what a technician he is.’

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“He’s practising in training, he has a bad week against Burnley: eight shots, great chances, can’t put one away. Then he scores against West Brom, then goes and puts one in the top bins like he did last night…

“Magnificent is the word we’re all looking for.”

El Ghazi is a product of Ajax’s youth academy, a seemingly endless well of technical talent.

This campaign, El Ghazi and co are flying – they are currently in 7th place but could climb as high as 2nd if they win their games in hand, the first of which comes against Chelsea tonight.

In other news, Sheffield Wednesday have opened talks to sign an Aston Villa academy product.