Alex McLeish stated that Stewart Downing was not for sale when asked about the winger last week, although the player’s desire to leave Villa Park has led to the Midlands club agreeing to sell Downing to Liverpool for £20 million.
Downing revealed earlier this summer that his career was at a crossroads and the England international will hope that the transfer to a higher-profile club will enable him to play European football over the next few years.
Liverpool continue their policy of buying British after signing Charlie Adam and Darius Henderson already this summer and Downing will add quality on both flanks, with Kenny Dalglish hoping that he will supply Andy Carroll with plenty of goals.
Paul Faulkner, Villa’s chief executive, said: “I can confirm that we have reached an agreement with Liverpool following an improved offer and the submission of a formal transfer request by Stewart Downing, and have subsequently given them permission to speak with the player.
“We believe there are replacements available in the market who can strengthen our squad ahead of the coming season, and we are in discussions as such. We are also working hard to conclude a deal for a goalkeeper who we believe can also strengthen the side.”