Breaking: Aston Villa appoint new sporting director

Johan Lange, technical director of FC Copenhagen looks on during the FC Copenhagen training session at KB's baner on June 20, 2017 in Frederiksberg, Denmark.

Aston Villa have appointed a replacement for Jesus Garcia Pitarch, the sporting director who left earlier this week.

Pitarch - known as Suso - departed the club after almost two years at Villa Park.

Former Wolverhampton Wanderers first-team coach Johan Lange has joined in his place, leaving Danish side FC Copehnagen after six years with the club.

Lange reports directly to the board.

Suso left the club after criticism came in for the recruitment last summer, with £130 million spent on 12 new players following promotion to the Premier League.

With a similar number of players departing the club, a turnaround was necessary and Dean Smith's side survived relegation by a point on the final day of the season last week.

"We're pleased to welcome Johan to Aston Villa as we continue building a world-class organisation," said co-owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

"This past season we were able to navigate a very difficult transition into the Premier League and are happy with the effort to stay up.

"But we will not be satisfied until we achieve our goal of bringing sustainable success to Aston Villa at the top tier of European football.

"We've made some significant strides in building an organisation and culture that will sustain success. We made significant investments into our academy programme by upgrading our facilities and bringing in a talented leadership team. We have also significantly invested in our women's team who achieved promotion to the top tier of women’s football.

"This is a great opportunity to improve our football operations. We're excited to work directly with Johan and the team to strengthen our analytics, sports science, talent recruitment and player development programmes.

"We are incredibly optimistic about the future of Aston Villa and remain committed to further invest in the club's success."
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