Villa star explains how close he came to shock Leeds United transfer

Morgan Sanson, Jesse Lingard

Aston Villa midfielder Morgan Sanson claims he rejected interest from Leeds United last summer – claiming the time was not right for him to leave Marseille.

Sanson, 26, moved to Villa Park from the Ligue 1 club on January 26. The former France Under-21 ace penned a four-and-a-half-year contract in the West Midlands.

It was a transfer that led to the departure of Marseille manager Andre Villas-Boas. He was vocal in his opposition to the deal, making it clear he did not want Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham as a replacement.

He tended his resignation but L’OM got in first and stated they had already sacked the Portuguese coach. A fee of £14m was agreed between the clubs but it seems as though Villa have been able to defer their final payment.

Details of the transfer arrangement Villa came to have been revealed here.

However, it could have been a different story for Sanson, who claims he could have joined Leeds before Villa. The French midfielder was part of the Villa squad that earned a 1-0 win at Elland Road on Saturday evening.

Speaking to French television channel Canal+, Sanson admitted at the time he didn’t want to leave France.

“I’ve known everything in Ligue 1, especially with Montpellier and Marseille,” he said. “So I was at a point where I was wondering: ‘why not go abroad?

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“Since I was little I have always had a special affection for this championship (the Premier League).

“Aston Villa are a big club in England, but it could have been another club the summer before.

“There was Leeds who were very interested, but I felt that was not the time.”

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Exciting times for Villa

Sanson was bought with a view of adding further quality to the midfield. He has yet to make any great contribution but it is early days and his time will come.

Dean Smith will certainly be hoping that he dovetails well with Jack Grealish. The England man is enjoying a superb campaign, having played virtually every minute of Villa’s league campaign until injury recently struck him down.

Jack Grealish Aston Villa


He admitted to having an excellent relationship with Smith. But the man with three England caps joked that being hauled off three minutes from time against Newcastle angered him.

“I can’t really give him enough praise, the only negative I can give him is that he took me off the other week,” he told Peter Crouch on BT Sport. “I was fuming I was, I was devastated. When my number went up I thought surely he’s got the wrong number there.”

READ MORE: Smith claims Villa star would have enjoyed getting one over on Bielsa