Savo Milosevic said Aston Villa belong in the "top six or seven clubs in England" as the former striker hailed the club's return to the Premier League.

After three seasons in the second tier, Villa finally secured promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs in May.

Milosevic became a fan favourite during his time at Villa Park, where he won the EFL Cup in his first season after arriving for a then-club record fee of £3.5million from boyhood club Partizan Belgrade in 1995.

Now head coach of Partizan, Milosevic has continued to follow Villa and the 45-year-old great – who is the highest-scoring Serbian in Premier League history with his 29 goals for the Villans – revelled in the team's comeback.

Milosevic told Omnisport: "Such great news. I have to tell you, I was very sad in the past three years watching Villa playing in the Championship.

"Villa are an enormous club with great tradition, they belong in the Premier League. Not just the Premier League but the top six or seven clubs in England."

Dean Smith and Villa have wasted no time preparing for their Premier League return, splashing the cash in the transfer market.

Wesley, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett, Jota, Bjorn Engels, Ezri Konsa, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi have either arrived or signed permanent deals in the West Midlands.

"Watching them play in the Championship, it was tough. I'm so happy now. I'm watching pre-season now and they are signing players," said Milosevic, who formed a lethal combination with Dwight Yorke at Villa and scored the opening goal in the club's 3-0 EFL Cup final win over Leeds United.

"It won't be easy back in the Premier League, it will be tough to survive because it's so difficult with many strong teams.

"Even those who are struggling, they are not easy to beat. They have to be careful but it's great to be back in the Premier League. It's where they belong."

Villa will open their Premier League campaign with a trip to Champions League finalists Tottenham on August 10.

Aston Villa have further bolstered their defensive stocks with the signing of England Under-21 international Ezri Konsa from Championship side Brentford.

Villa reportedly triggered the centre-back's £12million release clause to make him their seventh signing since winning promotion to the Premier League.

The Charlton Athletic product briefly played under Dean Smith at Brentford, for whom he made 42 league appearances in 2018/19.

Konsa joins Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause, both now committed to permanent deals, among Villa's defensive reinforcements and will fly out to the United States with his new team-mates on Thursday.

"Ezri fits the profile of the type of player we were searching for," manager Smith said.

"It helps that [assistant coach] Richard O'Kelly and I have worked with him before. He's a high-potential player who I believe can step up to the Premier League and I'm really looking forward to working with him again."

Konsa formed part of the England squad that stumbled to a premature exit at the recent European Under-21 Championship.

Villa have not confirmed the length of the contract.

Aston Villa have signed Tyrone Mings for a reported £20million.

The defender becomes Bournemouth's club-record sale, with the fee said to include clauses that could see it rise to £26.5m.

During a loan spell at Villa Park last season, Mings made 18 appearances to help Villa win promotion from the Championship.

And after the arrivals of Matt Targett and Wesley, Mings has further bolstered Dean Smith's squad for the 2019-20 season.

"We're really pleased to have Tyrone back at Aston Villa on a permanent basis," he told Villa's official club website.

"I think everybody could see the connection that he made with the club as a whole and it is excellent news that we can continue the relationship in the Premier League. 

"He will be an integral part of the squad for the new season and I look forward to working with him and helping to further develop his game."

Mings joined Bournemouth from Ipswich Town in June 2015 and made 17 Premier League appearances for the club.

In September 2017, Mings was banned for five games after stamping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's head during a 1-1 Premier League draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Aston Villa have completed the club-record signing of striker Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge for a reported £22million after he was granted a work permit.

Villa had already announced a deal had been agreed with the Belgian side, but they were only able to finally present him at their training base on Tuesday, the forward having been given clearance to work in England.

Wesley, 22, spent three and a half years in Brugge, becoming a key player over the past two campaigns and scoring 24 league goals in 76 matches.

Said to have cost Villa £22m, Wesley has become the club's most expensive signing, surpassing the £19m they apparently parted with to sign Darren Bent from Sunderland in the 2010-11 season.

Southampton have signed striker Che Adams from Birmingham City and allowed Matt Targett to join Aston Villa.

Adams has agreed to a five-year deal following a fine season for Championship side Birmingham, in which he registered 22 goals and six assists in 48 appearances in all competitions.

Saints claim to have beaten "a number of Premier League suitors" to the 22-year-old's signature.

"Che fits the profile of player we want to bring to Southampton and is very driven to show what he can do at the highest level," said boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.

"We have been monitoring his progress for some time now. He has shown a desire to join us above all other clubs, which shows the positive reputation Southampton has built for developing young players."

Southampton, who spent a reported £15million on Adams, have also sold left-back Targett to Villa for around the same fee.

"We're very pleased to have Matt join us," Villa head coach Dean Smith told the club's website. "He's a player we have been looking at for a considerable amount of time. 

"He fits our criteria of being a young player with experience of playing in the Premier League and having the potential to develop further. He will help make us a stronger defensive unit and we are all looking forward to working with him."

Targett joined Southampton as an eight-year-old and made 63 appearances in all competitions after making his debut in 2014.

"Targett has been an outstanding ambassador for the academy, setting a fine example for future Staplewood graduates," the club said in a statement.

"Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to thank Matt for his tremendous service and wish him every success in the future."

Neymar's return to Barcelona may be getting closer as Paris Saint-Germain seemingly accept the star is set to leave.

Neymar, 27, is heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou, two years after his world-record €222million move to PSG.

PSG reportedly set an asking price of €300m for Neymar, but that has apparently continued to reduce, increasing the chances of the Brazil star heading back to Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – PSG'S ASKING PRICE FOR NEYMAR KEEPS DROPPING

From €300m to €222m to €130m plus two Barcelona players?

Le Parisien report PSG would be willing to accept the latter offer for Neymar as they continue to soften their demands.

The report says PSG would settle for somewhere between €130m and €150m plus two players, with Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti all talked about.

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have apparently opted not to pursue Neymar due to some interest in Kylian Mbappe. In some good news for the LaLiga giants, Marca report Mbappe is not working on a new deal with PSG. Still, the superstar forward is contracted at Parc des Princes until 2022.

- Paul Pogba wants out of Old Trafford. The Sun report the midfielder, a reported target for Real Madrid and Juventus, will make a plea to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to let him leave Manchester United.

- Perhaps Christian Eriksen's move from Tottenham to Real Madrid will become a reality. Marca report Spurs chairman Daniel Levy called Madrid director general Jose Angel Sanchez to offer the midfielder, who is out of contract next year.

- Real Madrid still seem to want Liverpool star Sadio Mane. The Express reports Madrid are set to offer Marco Asensio to the European champions to secure a deal for star attacker Mane.

- Manchester United have slowly strengthened their squad this close season and there is apparently more to come. The Sun report United are set to bid for Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, who will cost £50million. The newspaper also reports United are not giving up on Antoine Griezmann despite the Atletico Madrid star apparently being set for Barcelona.

- PSG might be likely to miss out on Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, but they have other plans. La Gazzetta dello Sport report PSG have spoken to Leonardo Bonucci's agent about a possible move from Turin to Paris.

John Terry has signed an extended contract to remain as Aston Villa assistant coach until 2021.

The former Chelsea and England captain spent his final season as player at Villa in 2017-18, losing in the Championship play-off final to Fulham.

But Terry returned to Villa Park when Dean Smith was appointed as Steve Bruce's successor last October and this time helped the club back to the Premier League, winning at Wembley in May.

And the 38-year-old has committed his future to Villa ahead of their return to top-flight action.

Smith said: "I am really pleased that JT has extended his current deal as he is a pleasure to work with.

"We have had a successful start to our Villa coaching careers and JT has been instrumental in joining myself, Richard O'Kelly and Neil Cutler.

"He has complemented the team that we have and I have no doubts he will go on to be a top manager in the years to come.

"Our focus now is on the coming season and to try to continue the progress we have had in the past eight months."

Terry was linked to the Middlesbrough manager's job following Tony Pulis' departure at the end of last season but insisted he was staying patient.

Jonathan Woodgate was subsequently appointed at Boro, including former Tottenham and LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane on his staff.

Terry's ex-Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard is reportedly the front-runner for the leading role at Stamford Bridge, having impressed with Derby County, who were beaten by Villa in the play-off final last month.

Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Wesley from Club Brugge, subject to a work permit and international clearance.

Dean Smith's side are back in the Premier League next season following their play-off final victory over Derby County in May.

And having already brought in Jota from local rivals Birmingham City, as well as turning Anwar El Ghazi's loan move from Lille into a permanent stay, Villa have made their third signing, bringing in the 22-year-old Brazilian for an undisclosed fee reportedly in the region of £22million, which would break their transfer record.

Wesley scored 17 goals for Brugge across all competitions last season, including two in the Champions League group stages, winning a pair of league titles and two Belgian Super Cups during his time with the club.

After a three-year absence from the top flight, Villa start their Premier League campaign away against Tottenham on August 10.

Sergio Aguero could set a new Premier League record for goals on the opening weekend of a season in 2019-20.

Manchester City start their title defence at West Ham, where a hat-trick would make the Argentina attacker the most prolific opening-weekend goalscorer in the competition's history.

City's bid for a third consecutive title will likely be challenged strongly by European champions Liverpool again and Jurgen Klopp's side open their season at home to Norwich City, a favourite victim of the Reds.

Here, with the help of Opta, we look at two key facts for each of the opening-day fixtures.

 

Liverpool v Norwich City

- This will be the first time that Liverpool and Norwich have met since a nine-goal thriller at Carrow Road in January 2016, in which the Reds prevailed 5-4.

- Norwich City have only lost more Premier League games against Manchester United (12) than they have against Liverpool (11), but they have conceded more goals in the Premier League against the Reds than any other side (45).

Bournemouth v Sheffield United

- Sheffield United have won each of their past eight competitive meetings with Bournemouth.

- On the only previous occasion that Bournemouth and Sheffield United played one another on the opening matchday of a league season, the Blades were relegated from the second tier that campaign (1987-88).

Burnley v Southampton

- This is the second successive Premier League season that Burnley and Southampton have met one another on the opening matchday. Southampton hosted Burnley last season on the opening weekend and they drew 0-0.

- The last five Premier League meetings between Burnley and Southampton have produced just six goals (four for Burnley, two for Southampton).

Crystal Palace v Everton

- Everton are unbeaten in their most recent nine Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace, winning four and drawing five. 

- On the only previous occasion that Crystal Palace and Everton played each other on the opening matchday of a league season, Crystal Palace won 2-1 at Goodison Park but ended the season bottom of the league (Premier League 1997-98).

Leicester City v Wolves

- Leicester City's first home game and Wolves' first away game in the Premier League last season was in this fixture at the King Power Stadium on matchday two. The Foxes won 2-0.

- In their 4-3 victory over Leicester in January, Diogo Jota became the first Wolves player to score a top-flight hat-trick since John Richards in October 1977 (also against Leicester City). He also became the second Portuguese player to score a Premier League hat-trick, after Cristiano Ronaldo.

Tottenham v Aston Villa

- Spurs will start a league season at home for the first time since 2010, following eight successive seasons with an away match to start their league campaign.

- Harry Kane has scored four goals in five Premier League appearances against Aston Villa, including two goals in their last such meeting: a 2-0 win for Spurs at Villa Park in March 2016.

Watford v Brighton and Hove Albion

- This is the second successive season Watford have hosted Brighton on matchday one. Last term, Watford beat the Seagulls 2-0 at Vicarage Road last August thanks to a Roberto Pereyra double.

- Brighton have won just one of their opening league fixtures to a top-flight season; this was in 1980-81, against Wolves.

West Ham v Manchester City

- Manchester City have won their past seven competitive matches against West Ham with a combined score line of 23-3 in their favour.

- Sergio Aguero has scored six goals on matchday one of previous Premier League seasons, more than any player still playing in the competition. Players with more matchday-one goals in Premier League history are Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard (all eight) and Teddy Sheringham (seven).

Newcastle United v Arsenal 

- Newcastle have not won their opening league game of a season since 2012-13, when the Magpies recorded a 2-1 victory at home to Tottenham.

- Arsenal have won 12 of their most recent 13 competitive fixtures against Newcastle, losing only once in this run: 2-1 at St James' Park in April 2018.

Manchester United v Chelsea

- This will be the first meeting between these Manchester United and Chelsea on matchday one of a league season since 2004-05, when Jose Mourinho took charge of his first Premier League match. Chelsea won 1-0 thanks to an Eidur Gudjohnsen goal and went on to win the league title that season.

- Manchester United have lost more Premier League games (18) and conceded more Premier League goals (71) against Chelsea than they have against any other team.

Aston Villa have signed Anwar El Ghazi on a permanent basis from Lille after his successful loan spell.

The winger was a key figure as Villa secured promotion to the Premier League, scoring the first goal in the play-off final win over Derby at Wembley.

Now the 24-year-old is set for a long-term future at Villa Park after signing a four-year contract.

Villa have not disclosed the fee involved but it is widely reported they have paid around £8million for the former Ajax player, having taken up their option to buy the Netherlands international.

Villa head coach Dean Smith said: "Anwar proved to everybody at Wembley how good a player he can be for Aston Villa. He's ready for the step up to the Premier League and he's a young player who has an awful lot of potential."

El Ghazi scored six goals in 34 Championship games last season, and Smith told Villa's website: "It's now my job and the job of the coaching staff and Anwar himself to fulfil the potential that he undoubtedly has. He'll be a great addition to the squad for next season."

Aston Villa have signed Jota from rivals Birmingham City on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee, reuniting the Spanish winger with manager Dean Smith.

Jota was a key player for Smith at Brentford before joining Birmingham in 2017, going on to make 75 appearances during a two-year spell at St Andrews.

The 27-year-old has previously played for hometown club Celta Vigo, Real Madrid Castilla and Eibar, and Smith expressed his delight at having him in his squad for Villa's first season back in the Premier League.

"I worked with Jota at Brentford," Smith told the club's official website. "He's a superb, talented player and Birmingham signed him as their record transfer.

"I'm really happy to have him back working with us. He's got great ability, great balance and a great eye for both goals and assists."

Jota, whose most prolific season in English football came when he scored 12 goals in 21 Championship appearances for Brentford in 2016-17, said: "I am very happy to come and play for a club like Aston Villa.

"It's important for me to come and play in the Premier League. I've been looking for this for some years. I think I am in a good club to play there. This is one of England's best clubs."

Meanwhile, 26-year-old midfielder Gary Gardner completed a move in the opposite direction, joining on a permanent contract after spending 2018-19 on loan at Blues.

Premier League new boys Aston Villa have confirmed Ross McCormack has been released from his contract.

Scotland striker McCormack cost Villa £12million when he signed from Fulham in 2016, but his last appearance for the club came in the EFL Cup in September 2017.

He contributed only three Championship goals in his three years at Villa Park, which included A-League spells with Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners.

McCormack's contract was reportedly set to reward him with a pay rise to £70,000 a week following Villa's defeat of Derby County in the play-off final.

But Villa announced in a brief statement on Monday that McCormack has been released "after signing a variation agreement". 

Villa have also released Mile Jedinak, Alan Hutton, Tommy Elphick, Albert Adomah, Glenn Whelan, Ritchie De Laet, Mark Bunn and Micah Richards after their contracts expired.

John Terry is making no secret of his plans to go into management, but he is in no rush to leave his role as assistant at Aston Villa.

Ex-Chelsea captain Terry is on Dean Smith's staff at Villa Park and helped the former European champions back into the Premier League with a 2-1 play-off final win over Derby County on Monday.

And the 38-year-old's work under Smith has seen him linked with the vacant Middlesbrough job, where former England team-mate Jonathan Woodgate is also said to be in the running following Tony Pulis' departure.

However, despite hoping for a future as the main man, Terry is content to continue his education alongside Smith and colleague Richard O'Kelly for now.

"I've always wanted to do it," he said of management. "I think you know as a player when your time is up and I kind of knew that last year in my last game at Wembley.

"In the long run, obviously management is my ambition. But I'm not thinking about that at the moment. As a player, I got to the heights I wanted to get to but I firmly believe I'm a YTS [youth training scholar] again.

"I'm starting right from the very bottom and I'm not afraid to say that. I'm not afraid to do all the dirty work, picking up the cones, the balls and the bibs. All of that stuff is part of my education.

"It is something I have been planning for a few years and the experience and the day-to-day work on the training field and what the manager allows me to do has been fantastic for me.

"I've got a great teacher in Dean - and Richard as well - to bounce things off. I'm very fortunate to be able to sit there and learn from them, because they are superb."

Victory over Derby saw Frank Lampard and Jody Morris, friends and team-mates at Chelsea, denied promotion, yet Terry is tipping them for future success.

"It has been incredible what [Lampard] has done at Derby," he said.

"I don't think anyone would have put them back in the play-offs or anything this year but I think he has brought a great team spirit and, obviously, he has got a wealth of experience.

"He has got Jody, who has got a lot of experience in coaching as well, and it is just great to see young managers like Stevie [Gerrard, Rangers manager] and Lamps getting the opportunities.

"It was an unfortunate day for them on Monday because it's a horrible way to go. To come [to Wembley] and lose is tough to take, but he's got a great future in management, for sure."

Tammy Abraham has the belief that he can force his way into Chelsea's first team next season following his successful spell on loan with Aston Villa.

The 21-year-old played a key part for Villa, scoring 26 goals as they were promoted back to the Premier League via the play-offs.

Abraham's parent club Chelsea are under a two-window transfer ban - which they are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - and the England international is ready to grab his chance if it arrives.

"If Chelsea say they need me there, I will give 100 per cent," he told reporters after Villa's 2-1 win over Derby County in the Championship play-off final at Wembley. "I am still young, I am still improving. The aim is to be at the highest level and playing the best football.

"A team like Chelsea is always difficult because they have got world-class players. It is always going to be difficult to bring in youngsters and bring in people like myself - it is a big role. But for me, it is about believing in myself and just keep doing what I do."

Abraham came close to joining Wolves in the January transfer window and is happy that he was persuaded to stay at Villa Park for another four months, as Dean Smith's side were promoted back to the Premier League following a three-year absence.

And former Bristol City and Swansea City loanee Abraham is not completely against the idea of returning to Villa.

"It looked like I was going to Wolves," he said. "I think certain situations happened with the FA, something about playing for three teams in one year or something like that... but the coach spoke to me and said, 'Listen, stay here, we believe in you, the boys believe in you, the fans believe in you and we’ll get promoted'. I am glad I did.

“It wasn't my first choice to come to the Championship, but I don't look back on that decision [badly]. It has been a fantastic year for me and the boys as well, and to clinch it we got promoted.

"I love being [at Villa]. It is a massive club. It is an honour to wear the badge, so I am proud. I just need to enjoy my night with the boys before I think about the future. I have got the [Under-21] Euros coming up with England as well so I have to focus on that. You can never say never. You never know what could happen."

Frank Lampard has refused to indulge speculation he could become Chelsea's new manager following Derby County's Championship play-off final defeat to Aston Villa on Monday.

Blues legend Lampard has been heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge to replace Maurizio Sarri, who has been tipped for the Juventus job following Massimiliano Allegri's surprise departure.

Lampard, whose first season as a manager ended in disappointment with a 2-1 defeat to Villa at Wembley, would not be drawn on the speculation and says he will speak to Rams owner Mel Morris in the coming days about his future.

"I'm not interested in the speculation," he said. "I'll sit down with Mel Morris over the next few days. I've got a two-year contract and I love working here.

"After my first year and the opportunity this club gave me it's massively important that everyone understands that is my overriding feeling.

"So that's where I am. I'll go away tonight and have a couple of beers with the lads and the staff, and afterwards we'll talk about where we go forward."

Villa's win ends a three-year stay in the Championship and boss Dean Smith believes the club are now back in their rightful place.

"The potential for the football club is massive," he said. "I have been asked how it feels right now? I think it feels right. 

"It feels right that Aston Villa are in the Premier League. I think the history of the football club, the size of the football club, the fanbase it has, I believe it is a Premier League club. 

"It's not me speaking with a supporter's head on. It's just the history that tells you that.

"But, unfortunately, we have had some hard years as we've tried to get back into the Premier League. 

"The players and owners deserve what they are going to get. The potential with the owners that we have is massive."

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