Aston Villa spring surprise with unexpected signing of Arsenal defender

Calum Chambers and Rob Holding warming up for Arsenal

Aston Villa have completed a surprise deal to sign Calum Chambers on a permanent basis from Arsenal, it has been confirmed.

Villa have had a productive first January transfer window of the Steven Gerrard era. They have already brought in Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne and Robin Olsen. But they were also looking to add another centre-back.

They lost Axel Tuanzebe midway through his loan spell from Manchester United so he could join Napoli until the end of the season instead.

It left Gerrard with just Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause as senior centre-back options. Therefore, even though the latter has just signed a contract extension, further depth was required.

There were no links with Calum Chambers until the deal was announced, but it has been confirmed by both clubs on Thursday evening.

The transfer is permanent and Chambers has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract until 2025.

Capable of playing at right-back or centre-half, he will provide cover in the Villa backline.

The move brings an end to a seven-and-a-half-year spell as an Arsenal player after he joined them from Southampton. He made 122 appearances for the club in that time and also endured loan spells with Middlesbrough and Fulham.

However, the 27-year-old only had five appearances to his name this season – including just two in the league – before sealing his departure from Arsenal.

His contract there was due to expire in the summer, but he has found a way out in advance. It leaves Arsenal with just Cedric Soares as backup to main right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu. At centre-back, they are stuck with just Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben White and Rob Holding.

Some reports have claimed that Villa have not had to pay a transfer fee for Chambers.

Calum Chambers explains motives for Aston Villa transfer

Calum Chambers making a clearance for Arsenal

Although Villa are 10 points behind Arsenal in the Premier League table after 21 games each, Chambers does not think he is making the wrong decision and can see Villa only going upwards.

He told their club website: “It’s a massive club and they’re in a great moment at this moment in time.

“It’s a very exciting place to be and everyone can see that from the outside. Things are happening here and it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

“For me, it was a no-brainer to join a great club. It was the right thing for me to do.”

The three-cap England international is looking forward to working under Gerrard and playing in front of the Villa fans.

He added: “It’s a great club, it’s a massive club. I’ve played at Villa Park a few times and it’s great stadium with a great set of fans.

“The manager did very well at Rangers. He’s a young, exciting manager and I can’t wait to work with him.

“It’s a great stage to be joining the club at. The club’s building momentum and it’s an exciting time to be here.

“You can really feel that being in and around the building. You can feel the energy around the place.

“I feel like I’ve joined at a great time and I can’t wait to get started and give it my all.”

READ MOREAston Villa make contract decision contrary to recent Gerrard claim for star ‘valued very highly’