Express & Star

Tony Xia eyes Europe for Villa long-term

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New owner Tony Xia has set sights on making Aston Villa the kings of Europe within the next decade.


It comes barely a month after an embarrassing relegation from the Premier League.

Xia – who was confirmed as the club's new owner earlier this week – has admitted ambitious plans to make Villa the continent's top dogs.

Promotion from the Championship is the first aim and new manager Roberto Di Matteo will be given significant funds to revamp the current squad.

Bournemouth defender Tommy Elphick is poised to become his first new signing.

Villa will also appoint a technical director as they look to improve their rotten recent record in the transfer market and are expected to axe current head of recruitment Paddy Riley.

Xia, speaking for the first time since his takeover was completed, made it clear his long-term aims are set on European glory.

He said: "We have a vision that we will challenge to get back into the Premier League and we will be challenging when we get back.

"The aim, not just the hope, is to get back in the European field within five years and I wish we can succeed to get another trophy, like we have had here, in eight or 10 years.

"That is not an exact number, but we want to win the European Cup."

Xia was officially unveiled yesterday at a press conference which included new manager Roberto Di Matteo and Keith Wyness, who will become the club's new chief executive.

Di Matteo has admitted he faces a rebuild and new signings are expected quickly, with Elphick set to become the first new player through the door.

The 28-year-old, the Cherries' club captain, is believed to be discussing personal terms ahead of a £3million move.

A significant number of arrivals and departures are expected as a squad which achieved just three leagues wins last term is overhauled.

Riley played a major role in an ultimately disastrous £55million spending spree last summer and Xia was particularly stinging when discussing his future.

He said: "Honestly, everyone should agree with me, that he didn't do too well," he said. "So people should understand what he has to do, what responsibility he has to take."

Xia, who plans to buy a home in Birmingham and intends to attend the majority of the club's home games, revealed he decided to press ahead with his takeover after attending the 0-0 draw with Newcastle in May.

He said: "I couldn't help thinking, with these awesome fans, how has this club not been succeeding? That was the moment.

He went on: "It is really important to get promoted in the first season as everybody hopes but all we can do is do our best.

"We will try everything. That's what we hope. We hope we can do it and with some luck we can."