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Aston Villa swoop for former Leicester and Tottenham talent spotter

Villa are continuing a significant revamp of their scouting strategy with the appointment of former Leicester and Tottenham talent spotter Rob Mackenzie.

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Highly-rated Mackenzie is joining from Belgian club OH Leuven and will work alongside new sporting director Johan Lange as the club's head of recruitment.

He was previously part of the Leicester scouting team which took the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Esteban Cambiasso to the King Power Stadium, while he also played a part in Tottenham’s capture of Son Heung-min and Toby Alderweireld.

Villa have carried out a thorough review of their recruitment department and see Mackenzie’s appointment as key to improving their record in the transfer market.

The club spent £140million after winning promotion back to the Premier League last season but with largely mixed results, only avoiding an immediate return to the Championship by a single point.

Mackenzie’s background is in analytics and at Villa are keen to strengthen that aspect of their approach to scouting and profiling players.

At Leuven, Leicester's sister club, he successfully introduced a modern, data-driven approach which helped them win promotion to the Belgian Premier League this year.

Villa boss Dean Smith will still have a major say on signings, with the club aiming for a blend of old-fashioned scouting with modern methods.

Lange joined from Copenhagen last week as a replacement to Jesus Garcia Pitarch, who left the club shortly after the end of the season.

Villa’s primary focus in this window is on bringing in players with Premier League experience, or at least proven in the English game. Brentford striker Ollie Watkins is among their top targets.

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