‘Villa can be stronger without Grealish’

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August 13, 2021
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    Jack Grealish has left Aston Villa with our best wishes – Dean Smith

    Aston Villa can build a better team following the £100m sale of captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City, manager Dean Smith says.

    Villa have brought in winger Leon Bailey, striker Danny Ings, midfielder Emi Buendia and defenders Ashley Young and Axel Tuanzebe.

    Smith said Villa are in a "good place" despite the "big loss" of Grealish.

    "Now we've got more variation, more adaptability, and more depth and that's really important," the manager said.

    "I wanted to build a better team if Jack left and I feel we can do that."

    Villa are about to start the third consecutive season in the Premier League, with Smith keen to improve a team who finished 11th in May.

    "There was an over-reliance at times, an unconscious over-reliance on Jack," he said. "I think we've moved away from that now.

    "Only time will tell if that's a good thing but we believe in the team we've got and the squad we've got."

    Grealish had a release clause in a contract to prevent Aston Villa from blocking a move if a Champions League club showed an interest – and Villa themselves were not in the competition.

    Christian Purslow, Villa's chief executive, said he hoped that Grealish's clause would never be met, and admitted "it was a highly emotional moment when he told me his decision" to exercise the clause.

    Villa have invested the money in their squad – with Buendia, 24, a club record £33m signing from Norwich, Bailey, 24, transferred from Bayern Leverkusen at a little under £30m and Ings coming in from Southampton on a £25m deal.

    Young, 36, has arrived on a free transfer, and Tuanzebe, 23, is on loan from Manchester United.

    "I know a lot of people from the outside – and certainly on the inside – are really happy with our business," added Smith.

    Villa will start the new season at Watford on Saturday.

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