Following Stewart Downing’s move to Liverpool, Aston Villa have moved quickly in search of a replacement, bidding £10m for Wigan winger Charles N’Zogbia.
However, they could face competition from Sunderland, with Steve Bruce ready to launch a bid of his own to sign the highly-rated 25-year-old.
With Downing joining Ashley Young in midfielders that have left Aston Villa this summer, it is clear why new boss Alex McLeish is targeting N’Zogbia and it is not the first time he has tried to sign him.
When he was Birmingham City manager last August, McLeish came very close to signing the French International, but the move broke down when the player and club couldn’t come to an agreement on personal terms.
The former Rangers boss will be hoping for better luck this time around, with Villa’s bid likely to be accepted if Dave Whelan’s comments on the midfielder’s future are anything to go by.
The Wigan Chairman said: “We have to sell Charles N’Zogbia because he’s on the last year of his contract. We can’t keep him if a big club comes for him, and he does deserve a big club because he’s that kind of quality player.”
This means that McLeish will probably get the chance to speak to N’Zogbia, but reports are suggesting that he faces stiff competition from Sunderland for the winger’s signature.
Black Cats manager Bruce is keen to attempt and hijack Villa’s approach and will not rest until N’Zogbia’s future is decided for certain.
He has made it known recently that a ‘natural wide left player’ is the next target for him as he builds his squad ahead of the new campaign and N’Zogbia fits the bill. Bruce has wanted to sign him ever since he left Wigan for Sunderland, after all.
The expected £10m transfer fee and £65,000 a week wages are possibly a stumbling block for Sunderland, but if Villa fail to lure N’Zogbia to the Midlands, Bruce is ready to pounce on the deal.
Watch this space.