Paul Lambert insists he was always convinced Tom Cleverley wanted to come to Aston Villa, despite the late transfer deadline saga which almost saw him end up at Everton.
The Manchester United-owned midfielder completed a season-long loan move to the midlands almost 17 hours after the window closed, with a potential switch to the Toffees collapsing at the last minute.
There were suggestions that he preferred a transfer to Goodison Park but, despite Villa’s original £8 million offer falling through, Lambert stresses he has no reservations about the England international’s commitment to the cause.
‘My main concern was that he wanted to come here, he wanted to play,’ he told reporters.
‘I know all this speculation about him not wanting to come, that’s not the impression when I spoke to him.
‘The deadline day is mayhem, things can go wrong, be on and off, carnage breaking out everywhere. I knew the situation.
‘The lad never indicated he didn’t want to come. I spoke to him, he was professional about it.’
A highly-regard prospect when coming up through the Old Trafford ranks, Cleverley made 79 appearances for United following his first-team debut in August 2011, but a lacklustre 2013-14 campaign has since his once-promising reputation take a serious hit.
Also falling out of Roy Hodgson’s plans with the national team, the 25-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements under Louis van Gaal, but Lambert believes he can revitalise his career at Villa Park, with a potential £7.5 million permanent switch on the table if he impresses.
‘He’s a top player,’ he added. ‘I’ve only worked with the lad for a week but already I know exactly what type of lad he is.
‘If he can do what he did for the first few years of his career when he burst onto the scene then he will be some player for us.’
Having impressed in training this week, Villa’s new man could be in line to make his debut against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday but, with the likes of fellow summer arrival Carlos Sanchez, Ashley Westwood and now-England international Fabian Delph all competing for places, a spot in the starting lineup is far from guaranteed.