James Chester has committed his future to Aston Villa but says team-mate Jack Grealish should not be criticised if he leaves for the Premier League.
England Under-21 forward Grealish has been a long-time Tottenham target and the 22-year-old could move to north London before the transfer deadline next week.
“I think Jack is the most talented player at the club and deserves to be playing at the very top of the game,” Chester told Press Association Sport.
“People forget he is still very young, but we know Villa will be a real threat to anyone in the division (Sky Bet Championship) if he stays.
“It would be sad to see him go and I don’t know if he will now that the ownership of the club has changed.
“But I don’t think anyone should hold it against him if he ends up going to a top Premier League club.”
The future of Wales international Chester was in doubt this summer as Villa’s financial plight became evident following their defeat to Fulham in the Championship play-off final in May.
Stoke reportedly made a £10million bid for the central defender who impressed for Villa last season alongside former England captain John Terry.
But businessmen Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have since bought a 55 per cent stake from former owner Tony Xia, and Chester insists his future lies at Villa Park.
“I was aware there was interest (from Stoke),” said Chester, 29, speaking at the launch of McDonald’s UK’s new football sponsorship programme in Finchley.
“People obviously knew there was a problem at Villa and it was inevitable that players would have to leave unless new owners could be found.
“But I certainly did not want to leave. I have loved my time here and I wanted it to continue.
“Nothing was accepted and I never had to make a decision about whether my time at Villa was over.”
Villa start their Championship campaign on Monday at Chester’s former club Hull, with manager Steve Bruce having been given the full support of the new owners.
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry had been linked with the position following his role as assistant coach with World Cup semi-finalists Belgium.
“It’s wonderful that the manager is staying,” Chester said.
“There’s not many people better qualified than him to be in charge of such a big club as Aston Villa.
“I’ve played for him for a long time at Villa and Hull and I’ve enjoyed my time under him.
“I’m delighted that the new owners see him as our manager and there’s a nice buzz around the club.
“It’s not ideal when you’re coming into pre-season and reading that the club is in trouble, but the most important thing is we’ve found owners who can take us forward.”
James Chester was speaking at the launch of McDonald’s UK’s new football sponsorship programme which will provide over five million hours of fun football for children across the UK by 2022. For further information visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/football