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Aston Villa win the race to snap up £12m Downing

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill yesterday got his man when he clinched a £12million swoop for England winger Stewart Downing.

The Middlesbrough midfielder, who celebrates his 25th birthday next week, signed a four-year contract a day after the two clubs agreed terms.

A Villa statement read: “Villa have completed the signing of England international Stewart Downing.

“The four-year deal was finalised after the left-sided star agreed terms and passed a medical. Downing becomes O'Neill's first summer signing and adds more quality to the manager's claret and blue squad.”

He arrived at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex on crutches to discuss terms and undergo a medical as he continued his recovery from foot surgery.

He is expected to have a screw removed from the fractured bone in September and may not be available to play until October.

However, O'Neill moved swiftly to head off the competition amid a feeling that some potential buyers might wait until January.

Downing said: “As soon as I spoke to the manager at the training ground, I wanted to play for Villa and I wanted to play for him.

“He has great ambition and wants to build a good squad to take the club forward. I want to be part of that.

“As an outsider looking in, it was obvious that Villa were a club on the up. You can see a chairman and manager who want to build great things.

“They have done that over the past few seasons, particularly by finishing sixth last time around, which was great.

“But once you get here and see the stadium, the training ground, the people behind the scenes and the manager with his ambition and hopes for the future, it's even better than you realised.”

Meanwhile, O'Neill has revealed there have not been any bids for England winger Ashley Young.

O'Neill said: "There have been a lot of stories about Ashley —and that's what they are — stories.”

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