Aston Villa transfer news: Morgan Sanson joins from Marseille in £14m deal

Aston Villa pay £14m to Marseille for midfielder Morgan Sanson with the fee potentially rising to £15.5m with add-ons; Transfer is subject to international clearance; Dean Smith: "Morgan has performed consistently at the highest level in French football for a number of seasons."

Morgan Sanson has joined Aston Villa from Marseille
Image: Morgan Sanson has joined Aston Villa

Aston Villa have completed the signing of Morgan Sanson from Marseille on a four-and-a-half-year deal, subject to international clearance.

The 26-year-old midfielder joins for an initial £14m, which could rise to a possible £15.5m, and becomes Villa boss Dean Smith's first January signing.

"Morgan has performed consistently at the highest level in French football for a number of seasons as well as in this season's Champions League, and is a player with the quality and experience to play in any midfield position," said Smith.

"He will add real competition for starting places and gives us more squad depth which is vital to competing successfully in the Premier League."

Sanson joined Marseille from Montpellier in January 2017 and made 149 appearances for the Ligue 1 club, scoring 23 goals.

He has also played 11 times for France U21s.

Three players have already left Villa Park on loan this month; Lovre Kalinic to Hajduk Split, Tyreik Wright to Walsall and Conor Hourihane to Swansea.

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Smith: Nobody putting pressure on Watkins to score goals

Ollie Watkins celebrates his opening goal with team-mates Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore
Image: Ollie Watkins found the net against Newcastle

Smith feels Ollie Watkins may have been putting too much pressure on himself after becoming more goal-orientated in the last 18 months.

Watkins developed into an out-and-out striker at Brentford and marked his final campaign with 25 Championship goals before his summer switch to Villa, where he scored six times in his first seven Premier League appearances.

Included in the 25-year-old's haul was a sensational hat-trick in the 7-2 win against Liverpool and a double at Arsenal, but his purple patch was followed by a frustrating two-and-a-half-month period without a goal.

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He ended his drought that lasted nine games with the opener in the 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday but Smith insists nobody at the club was questioning his record - except Watkins himself.

"All goalscorers and centre-forwards will tell you they're not that worried (about not scoring), but really they just want to score goals and Ollie is the same," Smith said ahead of Villa's trip to Burnley on Wednesday evening.

"His mentality has changed since he became a centre-forward at Brentford last season and his mentality is now about scoring goals.

"I've said it before that his work ethic has endeared him to all staff members and players here. Nobody was putting any pressure on him apart from himself."

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