Christmas Comes Early for Dean Smith as Aston Villa Act to Address Main Weakness

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Aston Villa have finally  signed Ghent goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, three years after their first attempt to enlist the Croatian keeper’s services ended due to work permit issues.

It was reported that Kalinic had flown into Birmingham on Wednesday for a medical the following day and to complete the deal. The fact he wasn’t in Gent’s match day squad for their game tonight, certainly also gave the game away.

Kalinic will be eligible to play for Villa in January.

Kalinic Previous

Kalinic had been lined-up to become Remi Garde’s only signing in the January until it was denied, but it seems Villa are doing some early Christmas shopping for their manager and taking care of unfinished business when it came to Kalinic.

Dean Smith said today, that the Kalinic deal had been on the radar for the last three to four weeks.

Previously, the 28-year-old keeper had made his name at Hajduk Split back in his Croatian homeland, but after Villa encountered visa issues after supposedly beating off interest from the likes of Lazio and Besiktas, he then soon joined Gent, who had then recently won their first Belgium title after 115-years of trying.

While Kalinic has impressed at Gent, it’s interesting that he turned up at Villa and hasn’t been picked up by a team in one of the top tiers in the main European leagues.

It was reported at the beginning of last year that scouts from Everton, Southampton and West Ham were at Wembley to watch him in action for Gent against Spurs in the Europa League.

Smith’s Thoughts

Villa’s Head Coach suggested today that they had to move quickly and in secret, so no other clubs were alerted to the keeper’s availability.

Recently, Kalinic’s stock rose when he became the Croatia international team’s number one keeper after this year’s World Cup, after Danijel Subašić retired from international football after 10 years.

According to Smith, his new acquisition is more than just a shot-stopper.

“All goalkeepers are meant to be good shot-stoppers, or they shouldn’t be employed as goalkeepers,” smiled Smith, at today’s pre-match Leeds United press-conference, before detailing the keeper’s attributes.

“His size, he’s a big six foot-seven lad and he’ll command his box,” said Smith.

“He distributes really well, he’s good with both feet, and he’s got a great presence about him as well.

“He’s a good personality and he’s one that will fit in straight away.”

Villa fans will get their first chance to assess their new signing either at the New Year’s day clash against QPR at Villa Park, or in the FA Cup 3rd encounter with Swansea City a few days later on the 5th January.

It’s understood from newspaper reports that the fee for Kalinic is in the region of six million euros (around £5.4m).

Time will tell, but if it eradicates the doubts that Orjan Nyland has cast over Aston Villa’s promotion aspirations, then it could be some of the best money Villa have spent in recent seasons.


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