Jed Steer

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Villa sign Heaton, Marvelous; Bournemouth add Danjuma

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Make that 12 summer signings for Aston Villa, who are having a splendid… sorry, Marvelous time in the transfer market.

Dean Smith’s side have signed goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Burnley for $10 million, while the wonderfully named midfielder Mavelous Nakamba has joined from Club Brugge.

Just marvelous. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop now.

Villa have named signed a brand new starting lineup this summer, and Smith needed to bring in this huge number of players due to a plethora of departures due to contracts ending and loan deals coming to an end. Villa have spent a remarkable $160 million on new players so far this summer. Here’s hoping this is not another Fulham-esque situation…

Speaking about his arrival at Villa Park, Heaton is delighted to bring his experience to a young Villa side.

“There’s momentum here – you could see that from afar. This club got the ball rolling last season and it turned into a huge success story in the second half of the campaign,” Heaton said. “To gain promotion was absolutely brilliant. It’s been a busy window so far – a lot of signings. But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club. The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that. Hopefully, I’ll bring a bit of experience to it.”

Heaton should become Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper now, jumping ahead of Jed Steer in the pecking order. The England international will bring a steady head to a new-look and young defensive unit, and Villa have been on the hunt for a goalkeeper for some time. Deals for Neil Etheridge and Jack Butland proved troublesome so Villa turned their attention to Heaton.

As for Marvelous Nakamba, he joins for $13.3 million on a five-year deal and alongside Douglas Luiz he will battle with Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a starting spot in midfield.

Nakamba, 25, will join his former Club Brugge teammates Wesley and Bjorn Engels at Villa.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League – and against the best players in the world in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world. It’s always been a dream for me to play in the Premier League and to be competing against the best players in the world,” Nakamba said. “I will be trying my best, of course – and I will give everything. I give everything for the team every time. That’s who I am. I fight for the team. I care about helping the team. You will see that.”

The Zimbabwe international is a destructive force in central midfield and he will add a little bit of balance to Villa’s engine room given the mercurial attacking talents of Grealish and McGinn. Smith describes him as being “very mobile, very good in possession and he will fit in with our style of play.”


Bournemouth have also been busy in the transfer market as they signed Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma.

The Dutch winger, 22, has signed from Club Brugge for a fee believed to be $15.7 million and the former PSV Eindhoven and NEC Nijmegen forward will excite Cherries fans.

“Arnaut is another outstanding addition to our squad and I’m delighted that he is an AFC Bournemouth player,” chief executive Neill Blake said. “This is someone we have been tracking for a number of years, who has all the attributes to become a key player for this team. Football is about entertainment and, as a technical, attack-minded player, I’m confident Arnaut will excite our fans and they will enjoy watching him.”

With Danjuma on board, questions will pop up about the future of Ryan Fraser. The Scottish winger has been a real force for Bournemouth over the last two seasons (he scored seven goals and added 14 assists last season) but has just one year left on his current contract. Fraser has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and it is easy to understand why, as only Eden Hazard provided more PL assists than him last season.

Eddie Howe has added young talent to his squad once again this summer with Lloyd Kelly, Jack Stacey and Phillip Billing also arriving.

Aston Villa beat West Brom in shootout to reach Wembley final

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Aston Villa moved one giant step closer to a return to the Premier League by topping local rivals West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties in the EFL Championship promotion playoffs on Tuesday.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal ]

West Brom erased what was a 2-1 deficit to begin the semifinal second leg. Away goals are not used as a tiebreaker in the Football League’s promotion playoffs, thus the two Birmingham sides were forced into a penalty shootout, where Jed Steer would atone for a nearly calamitous error early in the game and season full of similar blunders.

Villa were in England’s top tier from 1975 until suffering relegation in 2016; they fell to Fulham in last season’s promotion final at Wembley Stadium. West Brom, on the other hand, saw their eight-year run in the PL end this time last year.

Leeds United hold a 1-0 advantage over Derby County, heading home for Wednesday’s other semifinal second leg.

Craig Dawson scored the second leg’s only goal, a towering header from Mason Holgate‘s long throw-in, in the 29th minute.

Villa’s Tyrone Mings made a goal- and potentially season-saving block in the 53rd minute, after Steer gave the ball directly to West Brom’s Jacob Murphy, who took a touch toward goal and fired for the bottom corner, the ball destined for the inside netting. Mings recovered from out of nowhere — wide left, where he was an option for Steer to play the ball out — to get a foot in front of the ball and boot it away.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham ]

Steer started the shootout by denying Holgate with ease, diving to his left and getting both hands behind the ball to keep it out. Conor Hourihane took the opportunity to put Villa ahead seconds later. Steer came up big once again, denying Ahmed Hegazi on West Brom’s second effort. Mile Jedinak‘s first touch after coming on late in extra time came at the penalty spot, and the Australian dispatched his effort as coolly as could be done.

Tosin Adarabioyo got West Brom on the board in round 3, but Jack Grealish restored the two-make advantage by sending Sam Johnstone the wrong way for the third straight penalty attempt. Kieran Gibbs nicked the inside Steer’s right-hand post in round 4, but by the grace of luck the ball found its way into the corner. Albert Adomah put Villa’s fourth attempt over the bar.

James Morrison hammered West Brom’s fifth past Steer, setting up on-loan Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham for the decisive penalty. It wasn’t the best penalty ever hit, as Johnstone got a trailing foot on the ball, but it had enough power behind it to sneak over the line and send Villa to Wembley.

Aston Villa comeback stuns West Brom in playoffs

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Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in their Championship playoff semifinal first leg on Saturday, as the home side launched a stunning late comeback at Villa Park.

The local derby swung in West Brom’s favor early on, as Dwight Gayle finished clinically but then a stunner from substitute Conor Hourihane was followed by a Tammy Abraham penalty kick moments later to send Villa Park wild.

To make matters worse for West Brom, their top goalscorer Gayle was sent off in the closing stages after a late challenge on Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer.

Villa or West Brom will play the winner of Leeds United or Derby County in the playoff final at Wembley on May 27 for a place in the Premier League.

After a fast start, West Brom went so close to opening the scoring, as Jay Rodriguez’s superb curling shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Steer.

At the other end Abraham sent an acrobatic effort just over, then Villa made a huge mistake and they were punished.

Glenn Whelan gave the ball away in a key area and Gayle pounced to smash home the opener at the Holte End to put West Brom 1-0 up. Villa struggled to get going again in the first half after that error, with West Brom dangerous on the break.

Abraham went close twice at the start of the second half as Villa pushed hard to get level with Jack Grealish leading the charge.

Villa eventually levelled 15 minutes from time as Hourihane smashed home a stunning strike with his left foot after Grealish found him unmarked 25 yards out.

It got even better for Villa moments later as Kieran Gibbs caught Grealish in the box and the home side were awarded a penalty kick.

Abraham stepped up to slot home the spot kick to give Villa a precious 2-1 lead ahead of the second leg at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.

However, Abraham did push over Mason Holgate in the box late on and was lucky to not concede a penalty kick.

And West Brom then made their task even tougher as their top goalscorer Gayle was shown a second yellow card for fouling Steer and will now miss the second leg.