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Burnley have, today, confirmed the signing of Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood on a three year and a half contract for an undisclosed fee.

This one has gone on for some time. It was back in April last year when the first speculation appeared with the Birmingham Mail running a story of Burnley’s interest, but nothing happened in the summer transfer window and Westwood continued to play at Aston Villa under two new managers Roberto Di Matteo and then Steve Bruce. He seemed to go off the radar until the last couple of days but a deal has now been done; he’s become a transfer deadline day signing.

The 26-year-old started his career with Crewe Alexandra, virtually the home town club for the Nantwich born Westwood. As is often the case at Crewe, he got his chance early and in March 2009, just three days before his 19th birthday, he made his debut in a 1-0 home defeat against Millwall, coming on as a substitute for Mark Carrington. He was on the field alongside goalkeeper John Ruddy, who has gone on to play for England, and Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson who is currently at Swansea.

Westwood went on to play 123 times for Crewe in the league, scoring 14 goals in the process, the last four of them coming at the start of the 2012/13 season. He’d just been appointed club captain at Crewe by former Claret Steve Davis and almost immediately there were suggestions that he could be moving to Swansea. “It’s the first time he’ll have had this sort of speculation in his career. He’s got to be professional in how he deals with it,” Davis said.

Talks between Crewe and Swansea broke down and that allowed Aston Villa to step in. His last game for Crewe was on 28th August in the Capital One Cup against West Ham and by the end of the month, right on the transfer deadline, he moved to Aston Villa in a £2 million deal at the age of 22.

Davis was disappointed to see him leave and said: “Clubs had monitored Ash for a long period of time. Villa came in, we thought Villa was a bit of a surprise, but then we found out that they had a thirty game dossier on him so they’ve done their homework; they knew what they were getting.

“But nobody else did, so fair play to them; they came in late with all their money and what a fantastic opportunity for him.”

That opportunity led to him making his debut within two weeks, coming on as a sub for Stephen Ireland during a 2-0 home win, ironically, against Swansea, and by November he was finally in the starting line up in a 1-0 win at Sunderland.

So impressive was he for Villa that he signed a new four year deal at the end of that season and two years later, in August 2015, he signed another to see him through to the end of the 2019/20 season.

Westwood once, on being asked what type of player he was, likened himself to Michael Carrick as someone who stays out of the limelight and keeps it simple, retaining the ball and laying it off to team mates.”

So, despite all the summer speculation, he remained at Villa in the Championship. He’s started 18 of their league games this season and made a further five appearances as a substitute. Only James Chester, goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and Jonathan Kodjia have made as many starts this season.

But he’s now swapped their claret and blue for ours after making almost 150 league games for Villa.

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