ASTON VILLA have appointed Johan Lange as their new Sporting Director – after raiding FC Copenhagen to headhunt one of the top talent finders in Europe.
Villa’s ambitious owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris have wasted no time in replacing Spaniard Jesus Garcia Pitarch, who parted company with the club on Monday after his relationship with chief executive Christian Purslow deteriorated.
Pitarch, known as Suso, was axed 24 hours after Villa’s dramatic last day survival, after spending £140million last summer with less than impressive results.
Now Villa have moved swiftly to appoint Lange, 40, who has become known throughout Europe as FC Copenhagen’s transfer king.
Few clubs in Europe can match the Dane’s hit rate.
Lange’s ability to find value in the market and turn quick profits, while continuing to win trophies domestically has helped Copenhagen reach the later stages of the Europa League – after knocking out Celtic.
Formerly Stale Solbakken’s No.2 at Wolves, Lange’s success in the transfer market has become legendary since he took over the role with the Danish champs.
Copenhagen’s Denis Vavro was sold to Lazio for £9.5m in the summer with Robert Skov joining Hoffenheim for £9m. Both had been signed for a fraction of the cost just two years earlier.
[Copenhagen] had to search for tomorrow’s competitive advantage. We have had to embrace new ideas.
However Copenhagen have produced a conveyor belt of talent in recent times.
Robin Olsen was signed for £630,000 and sold to Roma for £8.1m. In the space of a single season, Jesse Joronen was signed for £800,000 and then sold on to Serie A side Brescia for £4.5m.
Copenhagen have been flipping players this way for years and winning titles along the way – twelve of them since 2001.
Villa were attracted to Lange because he has succeeded in a market which is notoriously hard to attract players.
They believe that the lure of playing in the Premier League will help him find even bigger bargains in future.
Co-owners Sawiris and Edens said in a statement: “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.
Villa’s new vision is for Lange to identify affordable talent capable of becoming household names in the Premier League.
He explained his successful philosophy while at Copenhagen, where he spent the last six years as technical director, saying: “The onus is on us to upscale young players who can perform in Europe faster.
“We have had to search for tomorrow’s competitive advantage. We have had to embrace new ideas.”