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Villa are ambitious despite Grealish sale, says Smith

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Soccer Football – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain – May 19, 2021 Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish shakes hands with manager Dean Smith after being substituted Pool via REUTERS/Richard Heathcote EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Aston Villa is 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.

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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.

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“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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