Richard Dunne: Aston Villa can challenge for a Champions League place
The 29-year-old defender, who played for Manchester City for nine years, joined Villa on a four-year contract minutes before the close of the transfer window on Tuesday. And the Republic of Ireland international revealed that his move was motivated by Villa's year-on-year improvement under Martin O'Neill. "Aston Villa have improved each season recently," he explained. "Hopefully I can be part of a squad that can challenge for a Champions League spot. The experience they would have gained from last season - they went so close for so long at the top end and the manager has bought in some new players into the squad this year - might help us go that bit further." Related ArticlesDunne completes Villa moveVilla conclude Dunne dealVilla thriving without Barry, says PetrovWest Ham sign Da Costa, sell Savio and CollinsAston Villa must stay calmSport on televisionDunne's move, thought to be worth £6 million, was relatively fraught. Even though Villa agreed a fee with City last week, submitted the necessary paperwork an hour before the transfer deadline closed and received clearance from the Football Association, they could not be certain it had been approved until Wednesday. However, following the completion of the deal, Dunne is now free to make his debut in Villa's derby match against Birmingham City a week on Sunday. The former City captain was one of two defenders brought on board by O'Neill on transfer deadline day. James Collins also joined from West Ham United to bolster a defensive line which has looked worryingly thin since Martin Laursen's retirement and Zat Knight's sale to Bolton. That O'Neill has been able to resolve matters on the front line is credit to Villa owner Randy Lerner's readiness to take his eye off the bottom line. Lerner, who flew in to oversee the final day of reinforcements, had warned of a summer of modest spending, but he ended up providing more than £40 million for Dunne, Collins, Stewart Downing, Fabian Delph, Habib Beye, and Stephen Warnock.
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