On this day: Aston Villa break transfer record for Dean Saunders

On this day: Villa break transfer record for Saunders
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Twenty-one years ago today, Liverpool sanctioned the sale of Dean Saunders to Aston Villa for £2.25m.

When the inaugural Premier League campaign got underway back in 1992, Aston Villa were viewed by many to have a decent squad.

However, to be genuine title contenders, the general consensus was that they lacked the necessary goals to lessen the burden on centre-forward Dalian Atkinson.

It was a void that Ron Atkinson moved to fill on this day 21 years ago when he shelled out £2.25m - an Aston Villa record - to bring Dean Saunders to Villa Park from Liverpool.

The Welsh international's capture was viewed as a real coup for Atkinson and Villa, particularly because Saunders scored 23 goals in all competitions and played a key role during Liverpool's FA Cup success during the previous season.

"Dean scored 23 goals for Liverpool last season and won an FA Cup winner's medal," Atkinson told the Birmingham Post at the time. "If he did that for Aston Villa, it would earn him the freedom of the city."

Meanwhile, Saunders added: "In no way do I see this move as a step down. Villa are as big as any club. They have outstanding individual players and a team capable of beating any in the Premier League. They have as good a chance as Liverpool or anyone else of winning major trophies."

The new Villan made a dream start, scoring twice in a 4-2 victory over the side that had sold him just nine days earlier.

He would go on to form a clinical partnership with Atkinson and the pair spearheaded Villa's assault on the title. They'd ultimately fall short, ending up in second place behind champions Manchester United, but it had been a positive term nonetheless.

The following season Saunders scored twice during a 3-1 League Cup final win over United at Wembley, but despite finding the net 17 times during the 1994-95 campaign, Villa finished just one place above the relegation zone.

With Atkinson now departed, new manager Brian Little was in the process of rebuilding the playing squad and when Turkish side Galatasaray offered £2.35m for 31-year-old Saunders in the summer of 1995, the bid was accepted.

His spell in Istanbul would last just one year, before returning to England for spells with Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Bradford City, which sandwiched a brief stint in Portugal with Benfica.

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett on the touchline against Aston Villa on January 25, 2013
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