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Villa are ambitious despite Grealish sale, says Smith


London (AFP) – Aston Villa are ambitious and had no option but to accept Manchester City’s £100 million ($138 million) bid for playmaker and captain Jack Grealish said manager Dean Smith on Friday.

Smith speaking ahead of Villa’s opening Premier League game with Watford cited the arrivals of England striker Danny Ings and Argentine Emiliano Buendia — “he’ll bring the creativity and spark” — as evidence of their strengthening the squad.

Arsenal were also interested in Buendia, but Villa were first to meet Norwich’s demands with a £33 million offer according to reports.

Ings signed from Southampton for a reported £25 million.

Villa also added veteran defender Ashley Young from Serie A champions Inter Milan and Jamaican international Leon Bailey joined from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen for a fee believed to be £30 million.

“It was important that we strengthened the squad depth this season,” said Smith.

“We felt we had an 11 that could compete against anybody including the top teams — now we’ve got more variation, more adaptability, and more depth and that’s really important.

“Obviously Jack going was a big loss — we wanted to keep him but we would have added more creativity and have added more creativity with Buendia whether Jack stayed or not.

“I think we’re in a good place.”

Smith said Grealish had been a cash cow for Villa given he had cost them nothing. 

Grealish had been instrumental in lifting Villa from relegation battlers in the 2019/20 season to mid-table respectability in the last campaign (finishing 11th).  

“We made £100m from a lad who came through the academy and has set a British record,” he said.

“Jack was our best player but we never expected £100m to be met and it has been.”

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