Villa swoop for Boro defender Bennett
Aston Villa have completed the signing of Middlesbrough defender Joe Bennett for an undisclosed fee.
Bennett, 22, graduated from the club's youth academy and made his professional debut against West Ham United in the final game of the 2008-2009 season.
Speaking to the club's official website, Bennett said: "I am really excited to have joined a massive club in Aston Villa and I'm eager to fight for a starting place and get in the team."
"It's up to the manager to pick the team, of course, but it would be great to go back to the north east this weekend and make my debut against Newcastle at St James's Park.
"When I first heard about the move a lot of things ran through my head. There was excitement and nerves and most of all a real buzz about the prospect of coming to Villa and playing in the Premier League.
The Rochdale-born defender was an ever present for Tony Mowbray's side last season, making 45 appearances in all competitions.
He was also voted the club's Young Player of the Year for 2010-2011. Upon completing his move, Bennett admitted he is keen to get started at his new club.
"Now that it's come around so fast, I'm just raring to go," he said. "I've had a look around the stadium and the training ground and the facilities are top-class. You can tell straight away this is a massive club.
"I know a few of the players from England Under-21s, the likes of Nathan Delfouneso and Nathan Baker and that will help in terms of settling in. I'm looking forward to it. It was not long ago that I was given my professional debut at Middlesbrough by Gareth Southgate and it is a real privilege to now follow in his footsteps and join a club with Villa's heritage."
The full-back was also keen to thank manager Tony Mowbray as well as Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson.
"I am very grateful to get this opportunity and I'm very grateful to the Middlesbrough chairman, Mr. Gibson, all of the Middlesbrough staff and fans and, particularly, Tony Mowbray for giving me the opportunity to prove my ability," Bennett said. "I am fully focused now on my career here at Villa and I'm really eager to get started."
Meanwhile, Villa boss Paul Lambert said he fully expects the defender to thrive in the Midlands.
"Joe's a really good player, young and hungry to succeed and he's exactly the type of player we want here at the football club," Lambert said.
"There's no doubt in my mind that he will thrive in this environment and he fits in exactly with what we are trying to build here.
"His energy level is really high and he can get up and down the pitch really well, which will be important for the team and important in terms of how we want to play as a team. He's an exciting signing for the club and I'm really pleased we've been able to take him here."