Aston Villa target top-half finish after appointing Copenhagen chief Johan Lange as their new sporting director… just days after Jesus Garcia Pitarch was sacked despite Premier League survival

Aston Villa have appointed FC Copenhagen transfer chief Johan Lange as their new sporting director.

Lange replaces Jesus Garcia Pitarch, who was sacked earlier this week after masterminding a £140m transfer campaign in the last 12 months, had an outstanding track record of turning a profit in the market during his time in the Danish capital. Lange was assistant to Stale Solbakken during his brief reign as Wolves manager between 2012 and 2013.

Even though they have appointed from overseas, it is thought Villa are set to target players with Premier League experience as they seek to improve on a campaign in which they avoided relegation only on the final day of the season.

Aston Villa target top-half finish after appointing Johan Lange as their new sporting director

Aston Villa have appointed former Copenhagen assistant Johan Lange as sporting director

Chief executive Christian Purslow made the appointment of a new sporting director a priority following the sacking of Garcia Pitarch – known as Suso – but it is thought Villa’s approach will differ from their £140m transfer campaign last season.

A number of Villa’s signings in the last 12 months had no experience of the Premier League before they joined the club. It is understood the club wish to avoid a repeat of this scenario when they plan for 2020-21.

After keeping Villa up, manager Dean Smith spoke of his wish to continue building ‘a culture’ at the club. He is keen to reinforce the squad in all areas, with a centre-forward and a full-back thought to be of particular importance to him.

Aston Villa target top-half finish after appointing Johan Lange as their new sporting director

Villa sacked Jesus Garcia Pitarch (right) on Monday despite the club’s Premier League survival

Villa co-owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens said: ‘We’re pleased to welcome Johan to Aston Villa as we continue building a world-class organisation.

‘This past season we were able to navigate a very difficult transition into the Premier League and are happy with the effort to stay up. But we will not be satisfied until we achieve our goal of bringing sustainable success to Aston Villa at the top tier of European football.

“We’ve made some significant strides in building an organisation and culture that will sustain success. We made significant investments into our academy programme by upgrading our facilities and bringing in a talented leadership team. We have also significantly invested in our women’s team who achieved promotion to the top tier of women’s football.

“This is a great opportunity to improve our football operations. We’re excited to work directly with Johan and the team to strengthen our analytics, sports science, talent recruitment and player development programmes.

‘We are incredibly optimistic about the future of Aston Villa and remain committed to further invest in the Club’s success.’


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