Two more international players have been signed to Villa this past week: Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna; furthermore, it is being said that Villa are also currently negotiating a deal for six-foot-five Danish striker, Nicklas Helenius.
In home-grown news, midfielder Daniel Johnson has signed a new two-year deal with Villa. Johnson joined the Academy in 2010 but has yet to make his senior Villa debut; he had been on loan to Yeovil Town F.C. from October of 2012. Another Aston Villa Academy graduate, Callum Robinson, confirmed via his Twitter account that he has signed a professional contract with Villa: “After 10 years of being at Aston Villa I’m happy to say I have just signed my first professional contract with them! #AVFC #buzzing.”
Also this week, two other Academy graduates, Nathan Baker and Andreas Weimann, both signed contract extensions with Villa.
But what do we need to know about our new Internationals?
Twenty-year-old Danish centre-back, Jores Okore, has chosen Aston Villa over Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Of the decision, the very enthusiastic Okore stated: “I have a good feeling it was the right decision to turn down Chelsea … I feel that I have arrived at a club that believes in me … The manager has said all the right things and that has caught my attention. This is going to be good.” Okore inked a four-year contract with Villa, at a reported £4 million, leaving former club Nordsjaelland. Some of Okore’s player highlights include:
- Considered a “capable and aggressive defender”
- Known for his pace and strength
- Won the Danish Cup in 2011
- Won the Danish Superliga in 2012
Villa manager Paul Lambert has said: “Jores is only 20 years of age and that’s good but he’s also an international player at a really young age and he’s played Champions League football as well … I’m pleased that we’ve signed a player of his stature. He is someone who can come in and make a huge impact … He has played in big games but he’s a very humble lad and he will be a really good addition to our team. There’s a great opportunity for him here.”
We have also secured former Groningen player, Leandro Bacuna, for a reported £2 million. The twenty-one-year old attacking midfielder has signed a three-year deal, moving to Villa Park from FC Groningen, and Paul Lambert is abuzz: “Leandro’s energy and versatility will be really good for us,” Lambert stated. “He’s another player we believe will do well for us. He has played in big games and he has lots of experience for a player so young.” And, of Lambert, Leandro Bacuna had nothing put praise: “[Lambert] is trying to create a new generation, to build something here and make a lot of young guys show what they can do. I’m up for the challenge.”
The Bacuna rundown:
- Has made over 100 appearances for Groningen since making his debut in 2009
- Scored 14 goals in his appearances
- Plays box-to-box; likes to run, and looks to shoot
- Describes himself as “a big, strong defender with good pace”
Bacuna has stated: “It’s a new beginning for me, a new step and I’m looking forward to being part of this young, hungry team we have at Villa … This is a dream come true for me and also for my parents who are delighted for me … It’s a tremendous league to be a part of, the Premier League, and we want to show that Aston Villa can takes its place among the top teams.”
It cannot be argued that Lambert has incredible scouting skills, with Christian Benteke being proof enough. With the new, young blood mixed in with Lambert’s existing team, there is genuinely great potential for the upcoming season.
As an aside: The Spain v Republic of Ireland match was amazing; I had the time of my life, and was thisclose to Gerard Piqué.