Championship side Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Lovre Kalinic from Gent on a four-and-a-half year deal.
The Croatian goalkeeper, who has been a long-term target for the Championship club, is scheduled to join them during the upcoming transfer window after the club agreed on a £14m package with their Belgian counterparts.
Speaking to the club’s official website, manager Dean Smith praised the qualities of the former Hajduk Split shot-stopper, who is expected to provide the much-needed experience between the sticks during the second half of the season. The chances of Villa being promoted were instantly halved on the bookmaker Novibet's website - such is his impact expected to be!
Smith said: "We are delighted to be signing someone of Lovre's experience and quality. He is an outstanding goalkeeper and we are looking forward to welcoming him when he joins at the beginning of January."
Kalinic had initially been on the club’s radar during the summer of 2016 but the move did not materialise from Hajduk with the failure to secure a work permit. Thereafter, the Croatian was linked with the Villains during the previous transfer window but the club’s inability to seal top-flight promotion seemed to hinder the pursuit.
Nonetheless, the west Midlands outfit have eventually succeeded in acquiring the Croatian shot-stopper and the 28-year-old will be expected to take up the number one role ahead of Orjan Nyland, Mark Bunn and Andre Moreira. Smith has managed to transform the club’s fortunes after a rather underwhelming start to the season under ex-boss Steve Bruce and the team are currently just outside the playoff positions with a three-point deficit.
Up next, they are scheduled to face table-toppers Leeds United in their homeground and the game should test their credentials greatly, given the Peacocks have been defensively excellent over the past five matches. The visitors have conceded just once since the last international break where they have maintained a percent record with five successive league triumphs.
Aston Villa are one of the Sleeping Giants of the game, with their packed stadium and reputation for attractive football sorely missed by the fans of all Premier League clubs. It will be interesting to see where Villa end the season.