Another new feature will see me look over and evaluate the rumours floating around Villa Park in recent weeks. Of course these stories are merely speculation as Houllier looks to assess his squad ahead of the January transfer window. The Frenchman’s ties to the national set-up should see the club linked with a lot of French based talent and the start of October has been no different. I will give my opinions on the quality of any potential deal as well as assessing the likelihood that a transfer could come to fruition. In my first Rumour Mill update I have singled out reports surrounding Franck Tabanou, Gervinho and Guillaume Hoarau.
Reported Fee: £3m
Yesterday reports suggested that Villa were chasing highly rated 21-year-old winger, Franck Tabanou. Houllier is very familiar with the promising France Under-21 international and the Daily Mail claimed that there is a firm interest from the club. Villa will not be alone in their fondness for Tabanou with Italian giants Juventus also accredited with an interest. Tabanou has been with his current club, Toulouse, for his entire playing career, making his debut in May 2009. The left winger has played 8 times this season, scoring his only goal in a 2-0 win over Nancy and picking up 2 assists this term. Last season Tabanou cemented his place in the Toulouse first team netting on 4 occasions in 33 league appearances. The players agent confirmed the reported interest and the 21-year-old said of the rumour;
“If this rumour is true, I am proud because Aston Villa have been one of the big English clubs for several years. Now I play for Toulouse and don’t think about it too much. But it would be a lie to say that this club doesn’t interest me. If they make an offer, then we’ll see.”
Quality of Signing: 7/10
Club: Lille OSC
Reported Fee: £8m
Earlier in the week a story broke revealing that Houllier was harbouring an interest in Ivorian, Gervinho. The 23-year-old is an all-rounder in attacking terms and can play in a wide role as well as through the centre. Gervinho adopted his Brazilian-esque nickname due to his pace and flair and is certainly a player in the Ashley Young mould. Interest from other, bigger clubs could well see this rumour quashed although it is nice to see the club linked with such promising talent. The £8m fee reported seems low to me and I would expect Lille to be looking to cash in at around £10-15m for one of their prized assets. Having started 8 games thus far, Gervinho has notched an impressive 4 goals to add to the 13 he tallied last term, helping Lille finish in 4th place. Last season he also managed 5 goals in Lille’s Europa Cup run in just 7 turn outs. An interesting statistic sees the African has managed to score against an impressive, 25 different teams in his short career so far. I would again reiterate that this deal may be a step too far for the club but being linked with such names is hugely encouraging and any deal would represent a massive coup for the club.
Quality of Signing: 9/10
Club: Paris St. Germain
Reported Fee: £10m
Guillaume Hoarau is an uncompromising French striker and at 6’4” would signify a direct replacement for the likes of John Carew, out of contract in the summer and touted with a move to Serie A, and Emile Heskey. Again Hoarau is a player that Houllier will know well having made 3 senior appearances for the national side. At 26, he may be the right age to step up to the Premier League standard after spending his entire career in France. Hoarau joined PSG for under £500,000 two years ago from Le Havre, so the touted £10m price tag may be too good too turn down on his club’s part. Another issue is whether the powerful striker is worth this much and whether Houllier and indeed Randy Lerner would agree with the valuation. Hoarau’s debut season at PSG saw him net 20 times in just under 50 appearances but this good record has not been emulated since. Last term the Frenchman scored just 6 times in Ligue 1 after an injury hit season restricted him to 22 starts. So far this campaign Hoarau has started steadily scoring 3 in 8 in the league. This transfer could well be on the cards if the club stump up close to the £10m asking price with cult hero, Carew, seemingly on his way out.
Quality of Signing: 7/10
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