By support

2nd Mar, 2017 | 3:12pm

Senior Aston Villa figure: I almost joined Premier League club after talks

By Will Butcher

Tony Xia has revealed how he almost bought Premier League outfit Southampton before joining Aston Villa in the summer.

The Twitter-friendly sports mogul, who is the chief executive of umbrella organisation RECON Group, bought Villa from former owner Randy Lerner in May 2016.

Speaking to Bloomberg’s website, Xia revealed that he was in talks over the purchase of Southampton as well as many other clubs before opting to buy Midlands outfit Villa.

“It wasn’t just Southampton, we also held discussions with a lot of clubs,” Xia said. “”Even if we didn’t buy Villa, we would have entered the sports industry through other means.

“Now that we have control of Villa, we will leverage this opportunity and use it to further our business in the sports industry.”

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Xia, 42, has since invested heavily on players since moving to the Midlands, bringing in no less than 16 players this season in an attempt to secure an instant return to the Premier League.

The Chinese chairman signed off on expensive deals that included paying £15million for Jonathan Kodjia, while Ross McCormack and Scott Hogan cost £12million each.

However, Xia’s desire to return to the top flight instantly has not gone to plan, with the Midlands giants currently way down in 15th place in the Championship.

Villa’s dismal season has also seen a change in managers. Xia handed Roberto Di Matteo the chance to lead the club forward, but he lasted until October before Steve Bruce took over.

Xia will be hoping that he can bring the right additions to the Midlands in the summer in order to form a promotion challenge during the 2017-18 season.

In other Aston Villa news, this 32-year-old could return from the cold to start against Rotherham.

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