James Ward-Prowse has opened up about his decision to commit his future to his childhood club after a summer of speculation over Aston Villa’s interest in the Southampton captain.
Ward-Prowse was heavily linked with a move to Villa before signing a new deal in August, which will bind him alongside Ralph Hasenhuttl until 2026.
Villa’s Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur have also been credited with an interest in Ward-Prowse.
With Villa looking to strengthen his midfielder, talks about a move for Ward-Prowse emerged shortly after Emiliano Buendia arrived in a record-breaking £ 30million contract with Norwich City, confirmed in June.
Villa ended the summer transfer window without signing a midfielder, which worries fans, but those fears have since been allayed by the performances of Jacob Ramsey, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz.
Ward-Prowse, meanwhile, would have cost a significant transfer fee and had he moved to Villa, and it would also have reduced any chance Smith’s men would sign Danny Ings, which they did later in the window for around £ 25million.
“It was the first time I had faced this kind of speculation, so it was a different challenge,” Ward-Prowse told colleagues at BirminghamLive on the south coast at HampshireLive.
“I was also trying to come back from a knee injury at the time, so I had a few obstacles in the way for a significant part of the season with the preseason going on, trying to develop my fitness, and it was difficult.
“It was a bit of a stop-start, but I’m just trying to find that rhythm and consistency now.
Read more: Douglas’ latest transfer as AS Roma talks swirl
Read more: Villa receives transfer request as club leads the way
“When I sat down and spoke with the club, it was immediately obvious that they wanted everything to be fixed.
“It was obvious to me then. I love being here and being a part of this club is really special.
“I am happy and really proud to continue this journey.”
Should Villa have opted for Ward-Prowse? Give your opinion in the comments section …
Read more: Wolves await critical talks to avoid Villa coup
Read more: Villa vs Tottenham predicted XI for Prem clash