Aston Villa signed one of the most highly rated young players in French football by bringing in defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara on a free transfer.

The 22-year-old Kamara, whose contract with Marseille is expiring this month, has signed a five-year deal with Villa. He was called up to the French national team’s senior squad for the first time this month for upcoming Nations League matches.

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“I am delighted that we have been able to attract one of the most promising young talents in European football,” said Villa manager Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool great who played in the same position as Kamara.

Kamara helped Marseille finish in second place in the French league, so is swapping playing in the Champions League next season for a team that won’t even be playing in Europe.

Kamara came through the youth ranks at Marseille and has made more than a century of appearances for the team.

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