Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has spoken to Villa TV and addressed the departure of Jack Grealish and the squad’s hopes for the upcoming campaign.
Grealish secured his move to Man City this week, with Villa enjoying a busy summer transfer window of our own as we’ve already signed Emiliano Buendia, Ashley Young, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings.
Time will tell if there are still further reinforcements to arrive, but with our Premier League opener against Watford rapidly approaching on August 14, the focus now will be on bedding in the new players and kicking on without our former talismanic captain.
Smith on Villa’s European aspirations
Smith spoke about Villa’s hopes and objectives for this season, as he reiterated that the aim is to build on our 11th-place finish last year and look to try and break into Europe.
“Our job now is to progress the football club again. It will be tough, we know that,” he said, as per the club’s official site. “The clubs that we have to go and pass now are clubs that have been established in the top 10, like Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester, teams like that.
“It becomes a really hard job but it’s one that’s always been part of our project.
“We finished 11th last season and we probably felt we were one or two places better than that. We left too many points out there in the back end of the season. Our aim is certainly to improve on 11th place and to try and get into Europe.”
Smith on Grealish exit from Villa
Naturally, losing a player of Grealish’s quality and influence is a big blow for Villa, but with the signings of Bailey, Buendia and Ings, it’s hoped that we’ve brought in individuals who offer what he did without having to be over-reliant on one player as the team as a whole has become stronger.
Smith paid tribute to Grealish for what he contributed during his time at the club and gave his insight on why the England international opted to leave this summer.
“It’s a huge disappointment that Jack moves on,” he noted. “Everybody knows what he means to this football club and I also know what he means to the fans.
“We want to keep our best players, but unfortunately Jack’s had a really tough decision to make. Jack will always be highly thought of by all staff and players at this football club, and I hope by the supporters as well because of what he’s given to this club.
“He will always be an Aston Villa fan and that will never change. Unfortunately we can’t provide European football for Jack at the moment. He’s going into his 26th year of his life and he understands it’s a short career and he wants to go and play at the top level. He’s had a taste of it at the Euros.
“For somebody to come through our Academy and become the British record transfer, I think just shows what an exceptional talent Jack has been and will be.
“But we move on. I’m not looking to replace Jack because I don’t think you can. He’s such a unique player and a unique character.
“My job is to use the funds to actually make us a better team by bringing in more quality players and give us more depth as a team and not be as reliant on one player.”
Time will tell whether or not our recruitment drive is a success, as while we’ve certainly brought in highly-talented players in this window, it’s important now that they click and bring out the best in each other to ensure we’re in the mix when it comes to breaking into the European qualification spots this season.