By Brian Doogan
Philippe Senderos, who will fly to Brazil tomorrow with the Swiss national team to take part in his third World Cup finals, has agreed to join Aston Villa on a two-year deal beginning July 1.
The 29-year-old former Arsenal and Fulham defender becomes the first signing by Villa manager Paul Lambert this summer.
Described by Lambert's mentor at Borussia Dortmund, Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Swiss national coach, as a player who has "never disappointed on the pitch", Senderos is relishing his return to the Barclays Premier League and believes his experience will add formidable strength to the Villa defence next season.
"I'm really delighted to be joining Aston Villa, a great club with such a big history, and for me this is a great step in my career," he said.
"There will be a lot of competition for places with Ron Vlaar, Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Jores Okore also very capable Premier League defenders, so it will be up to me to fight for and to earn my place in the team.
"This is a team and a club which wants to do better, I know this, and hopefully we can all develop together and create something special.
"My goal is to help the team keep as many clean sheets as we can and to help drive Villa where we deserve to be and want to be.
"I have come to an age where I've learnt a lot under some great managers such as Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Ottmar Hitzfeld with the Swiss national team and I've built up a lot of experience. I can develop further and continue to get better and this will be my goal - to continue to grow as a player, to help the team to grow and to contribute everything I can through the season.
"With Brad Guzan in Brazil with the USA squad and Ron Vlaar in the Dutch squad, that's a great deal of experience we'll be able to bring into the new season and, of course, Ciaran and Jores are also playing in their national teams. It's good to have this level of pedigree at the heart of the team's defence.
"I'm also excited to work with Paul Lambert whom I know has a great deal of respect also for Ottmar Hitzfeld and my challenge will be to vindicate the trust he has shown in bringing me to Villa."
For the Villa manager, the defender's strong mentality and experience of playing with top teams over many years proved a persuasive combination in luring him from La Liga side Valencia.
"He's played for some top sides and was a big influence in Arsenal's run to the Champions League final in 2006, so we're bringing in a really experienced player who's been there and done it and that will be important for the team," Lambert said.
"I went to Switzerland not long ago to watch the national team train and I could see he has a good, strong mentality for the game. Ottmar knows players and for him to say that Philippe has never disappointed him on the pitch, that's no small commendation.
"This will be Philippe's third World Cup finals and there aren't too many players who compete at that level over that stretch of time. He'll be a great addition to the group."
Senderos emerged through the youth system at Swiss club Servette before he agreed to join Arsenal in December 2002.
In 117 appearances for the Gunners, he won an FA Cup medal in 2005, scored four goals and spent loan spells at AC Milan and Everton before joining Fulham in 2010, making 68 appearances for the Craven Cottage team.
He has been capped 52 times by Switzerland, scoring five international goals.
Get in quick to pre-order the new Villa home shirt.