After the 3-3 draw with Chelsea saw Villa slump to the worst defensive record in the league, worse than West Ham, worse than Wigan!, Gerard Houllier is believed to be keen to bolster his backline blunders. The Frenchman has been linked to a number of defenders in the past, with 3 more now thought to be on his radar. A loan deal has been touted for young Tottenham full-back, currently on loan at QPR, Kyle Walker. The right back has impressed during loan spells to Championship clubs including Sheffield United as well as in his role with the England Under-21s. Basel’s Iranian born full-back Behrang Safari, who plays for the Swedish national side, has also attracted interest. The 25-year-old is rumoured to have been tracked by a number of clubs following eye-catching displays for the Swiss side. Finally and perhaps most encouragingly, the club have also been linked with a player-plus-cash deal for want away Blackburn centre half Christopher Samba. The giant defender has been a mainstay in the Rovers set-up for a number of seasons and is also vice-captain in the absence of Ryan Nelsen. It has been suggested that Houllier is willing to offer Curtis Davies in exchange for Samba, along with a reported £5m kicker. To read profiles on the three linked players
Walker has cemented his place as first choice right back at QPR in a season which has seen them rocket to the top of the table under Neil Warnock. The 20-year-old has made 20 appearances in the league picking up 4 assists in the process. During those 20 games Walker has been part of a defence which has kept 9 clean sheets and it seems Houllier is looking to line up a replacement for the ageing and currently crocked Luke Young. The Frenchman is reportedly keen to bring the young full-back on loan with Tottenham unlikely to want to sell the hot prospect.
Behrang Safari plays on the opposite side to Walker and can also be deployed as a winger. The Iranian born Sweden international has played 25 times this season for Basel including 6 Champions League appearances. Safari established himself as the main left back at Basel last term laying on 6 goals and scoring once in 32 league games. The 25-year-old has played 15 times for Sweden, were he grew up and began his footballing career with Malmo FF.
Christopher Samba will be a familiar figure to Premier League and indeed Villa fans. The 26-year-old is a key player for Rovers and would represent a significant loss to new manager Steve Kean after handing in a transfer request after the dismissal of Sam Alladyce. Houllier is reportedly looking to tempt Blackburn into a sale by using Curtis Davies as a makeweight for the big Congolese centre-back. Samba has 2 goals in the league this year in 17 appearances. His aerial presence and strength are undoubtedly his main assets adding valuable height to set piece scenarios at both ends of the pitch. In 148 league games for Blackburn, Samba has netted 14 times as well as laying on 8 assists including 3 goals against Villa in 11 appearances.
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