Aleksandar Tonev is looking forward to becoming an important part of Paul Lambert's young and hungry Aston Villa team as the 23-year-old attacking midfield player completed a medical and agreed terms today at Bodymoor Heath.
With a deal agreed between Villa and Polish club Lech Poznan, the final paperwork will be completed next week to rubberstamp Tonev's move.
His arrival in England has been made easy by the presence of former Villa and Bulgarian international captain Stiliyan Petrov who welcomed his compatriot to the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground.
Tonev lined up alongside Petrov when he made his international debut against Wales in October 2011 in Sofia and he is determined to make his own mark in the Barclays Premier League.
"I am really happy to be part of Aston Villa and I am really proud to be able to pull the shirt on," Tonev said. "Aston Villa is a big club and the manager and club have a belief in young players and in the team ethic. Football is not about the individuals. It's a team sport and all successful teams play well together. That's what you can see at Villa, the team is playing together.
"I am part of the team now and I am hungry for success. I want to show everybody what I can really do. I have played in front of big crowds before but the atmosphere here in England is unique. The crowd is like a 12th player for the team and I am looking forward to playing in front of the fans.
"I can't wait to start and to meet my team-mates and the manager. When I heard about Aston Villa, I thought about playing in the Premier League for such a big club. I wasn't thinking about anything else.
"Stiliyan being here wasn't a massive influence on me coming here. Stiliyan and Dimitar Berbatov have done really well in this league and I hope I can do the same. They are both great Bulgarian players and hopefully I can do the same and make my mark on the Premier League.
"I have been watching Villa and I know there are some very good players here. I am really looking forward to being part of the team."
Petrov, now assistant development coach at Villa, added: "I played alongside Aleks, so I know a little bit about what kind of a player he is. The main thing is that the manager likes him as well and the way he plays.
"I think Villa fans have one exciting player on their hands. I think the Club has been monitoring Aleksandar for a few months, they have watched some games and some DVDs.
"He doesn't have a dominant foot which is really interesting and the main thing about him. He is quick, he is an exciting player and I think Villa fans will see he is a good player. He is the kind of player who can really make an impact in this young, exciting team. We spoke last night and he is really looking forward to it. He knows that it will be a challenge but he is ready for it."
Tonev began his career at CSKA Sofia. He made his debut as an 18-year-old, coming on as a substitute against Belasitsa Petrich in March 2008, playing twice that season as CSKA won the league. He went out on loan in 2008-09 to Sliven 2000 but returned to Sofia in 2010-11. He played 23 games in the league that season, as well as eight times his club's Europa League campaign and three times in the Bulgarian Cup-winning campaign.
Tonev's performances in 2010-11 were recognised by his fellow professionals when he won the Bulgarian Footballers' Young Player of the Year 2010-11 aged 21, after being voted into third place in 2008-09 aged 19.
His performances for CSKA earned him a move to Polish club Lech Poznan following the 2010-11 season. Tonev played 27 times for Lech in 2011-12, starting 17 games and scoring three goals. He started 22 games the following season, coming on in another four, and scored four goals as Lech finished second in the league. He played in all of the Europa League qualifying games for Lech in 2012-13 and scored once, in the home leg against Xäzär Länkäran of Azerbaijan.
Tonev has also played 11 times for the Bulgarian national team, after playing 15 times for the U21s. Lining up alongside former Villa and Bulgaria captain Stiliyan Petrov, he made his debut against Wales in October 2011 in Sofia. Tonev scored his first goals for his country against Malta in March 2013, going on to complete his first professional hat-trick.
Check out our exclusive interview with Tonev on AVTV.
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