Ex-Aston Villa man sold by Dean Smith set for surprise Premier League return as medical booked

Latest transfer news as a former Aston Villa player, who was sold by Dean Smith, looks set to sign for Southampton after a medical was booked.

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Former Aston Villa defender James Bree is closing in on a surprise return to the Premier League as Southampton have agreed to pay Luton Town a fee of £750,000 for his services. Set to undergo a medical today, the right-back is expected to join up with the Saints in their relegation fight, reports The Athletic.

The 25-year-old came through the Barnsley academy before signing for the Villans for around £2.5-3 million in 2017, but he never got a proper look in once Dean Smith got the club promoted. Even before then, Bree’s game time was very sporadic as he made seven Championship appearances at the end of the 2016/17 season and then just six throughout the entire campaign that followed.

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Bree was sent out on loan to Luton for the 2019/20 term and the deal then became permanent in September 2020 as he joined the Hatters for an undisclosed fee. Since then, the Wakefield-born ace has become a key player for his new side and he has played every single minute available to him in the Sky Bet Championship this season.

Nathan Jones and Rob Edwards have both seen Bree, who has four assists to his name so far in 2022/23, as indispensable. But the club has made the decision to cash in on him while they have the opportunity to do so and he will reunite with Jones, who left Luton for Southampton in November after Ralph Hassenhuttl was sacked.

James Bree played 28 times for Aston Villa at senior level before departing for Luton Town.James Bree played 28 times for Aston Villa at senior level before departing for Luton Town.
James Bree played 28 times for Aston Villa at senior level before departing for Luton Town.

The pressure is certainly on at St Mary’s as the Saints are at rock bottom of the Premier League as things stand, with just 15 points after 20 matches played. Bree’s old club Villa, meanwhile, are enjoying some much-improved form under Unai Emery as they have soared well away from a relegation battle. The Villans are just one point outside the top half and three off the top six.

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