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Steven Gerrard: New Aston Villa arrivals a 'statement of intent'

Steven Gerrard claims the signings of Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne underline Villa’s ambition to start challenging the Premier League elite.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard

The duo are in contention to make their debut when Villa host Manchester United this evening.

Their arrival this week has excited supporters and continued a noticeable shift in the club’s policy away from signing younger players with big potential to bringing in experienced, established names.

Villa’s last three major signings, including summer capture Danny Ings, are all aged in their late 20s and Gerrard admitted there is a growing desire for success now.

He said: “It’s definitely a sign of optimism and ambition, not just from me but from the top of the club as well which is vital.

“We want to move now, we don’t want to wait. When we came in we knew we had a lot of talented youngsters in the group, who are potentially going to be fantastic players. We also had those in the ‘middle-age’ bracket – Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa – who are trying to become top players.

“They are already fantastic players but they have another level and are still working towards that, becoming experienced footballers.

“We felt the group was maybe lacking a few players who had real pedigree, who have won before, who have been there and done it, who can bring a certain level of confidence and belief to add what’s already here.

"The first couple of signings are statements and players who are ready to help Villa now, not potential, or ‘we wait’ or ‘it’s a maybe’. We know these two players, if we can get them happy and enjoying their football again, will bring a lot to this club.”

Gerrard, who suggested Villa's business in the window may not yet be finished, believes adding Coutinho and Digne to the squad can aid the development of some of club’s promising young players.

He explained: “When I was younger I was lucky enough to play with Dietmar Hamann and Gary McAllister at Liverpool, players with real pedigree who had been there and done it before.

“They helped take my game to the next level, just being round them, watching them on a daily basis.

“If you think about the signings now in the building, we’ve got young defenders, midfielders and attacking players who will really look up to Lucas and Phil, really appreciate what they have done in their careers and strive to be similar to them.

“In the last couple of days you’ve seen an excitement with the younger players and even the older ones in the dressing room that we’ve signed two players who are ready now, with real pedigree and that still have bundles left in our opinion.”

Villa have opened talks with defender Kortney Hause over a new contract, with centre-back a position the club are also seeking reinforcements in either the current window or the next.

Gerrard will be without John McGinn through suspension as Villa target a swift revenge against United following Monday’s FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford. Their last home Premier League win over the Red Devils was in 1995.

Gerrard said: “As a player if that is not enough motivation for you, you are in the wrong building and under the wrong manager, especially after getting knocked out of the FA Cup.

“There has to be even more determination to try and change the mood and the feeling.

“The players didn’t feel they deserved the outcome of the game but we have to accept it, be professional and not feel sorry for ourselves and go and put in a top performance and really leave it out there.”

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