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Rumour Mill

Villa Linked with Host of Stars Ahead of Transfer Window

My bi-weekly Rumour Mill feature steps up a gear at the end of October as manager Gerard Houllier looks to strengthen his squad. Many of the rumours and reports over the last two weeks have featured midfielder’s despite a desperate need for proven goal-scorer. Some interesting and encouraging links none the less will go under my rule of quality and likelihood in 15th-31st October instalment.

Anders Lindegaard

Club: Aalesunds

Reported Fee: Unknown

Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard has been picking up rave reviews after consistent impressive displays for his Norwegian club. The shot stopper has been branded as the new Peter Schmeichel due to his agility and sharp reflexes. Lindegaard has slipped under the radar for a few years now and at 26 is approaching his best years with many more to come. In terms of a move to Villa he may well be interested due to his hero Schmeichel’s involvement with a club that has good ties and scouting networks within the Scandinavian networks. It is believed that the club has sent scouts to monitor keeper’s performances but they are far from being alone in their interest. The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Bayern have all been keeping tabs on the Dane which is a clear indicator of his abilities. The 26-year-old is keen on a move in January but is reportedly favouring Manchester United as his top option with Edwin van der Sar on the way out. Lindegaard has played every minute of Aalesunds 28 games this season notching 9 clean sheets in the process.

Quality of Signing: 8/10

Likelihood: 5/10

Lassana Diarra

Club: Real Madrid

Reported Fee: £12m

French midfielder Lassana Diarra is perhaps not a surprise addition to Aston Villa’s rumoured wish list. The former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder joins a host of French stars reportedly attracting interest from former FFF Director, Gerard Houllier. Diarra showed his undoubted talent in an impressive season with Portsmouth having struggled to hold down a place under Wenger and Mourinho at his previous clubs. His performances earned him a dream big money move to Real Madrid two seasons ago where he has since fallen out of favour. The arrival of his former boss Mourinho may not have encouraged the 25-year-old, who has started just 3 of his side’s games this season. Currently behind Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira in the Madrid pecking order, it is felt that Diarra could slip further into obscurity with the impending return of Fernando Gago. Creativity, strength and passing are just a few of his key attributes in an extensive skill set. The player would represent a real coup for Villa and he is likely to favour a move back to England but Houllier faces tough competition from the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton for his signature with the former teams seeming his most likely destination. He may well see Villa as a welcome option under Houllier with first team football more of a formality. Diarra has just one goal to his name at Real Madrid coming in the opening day 3-2 victory of the 09/10 season.

Quality of Signing: 9/10

Likelihood: 6/10

Jean Makoun

Club: Lyon

Reported Fee: Loan-to-Buy – £7m

Jean Makoun is a strong and explosive Cameroonian midfielder who joined Lyon from Lille for £11m in 2008. The 27-year-old impressed in his first season with the French giants netting 7 times and laying on 4 goals in 34 league appearances for Lyon. After establishing himself as a first team regular, Makoun began to be overlooked by manager Claude Puel last season despite making 28 league appearances he only managed 1 league goal after his excellent debut campaign with the club. This solitary strike was added to by a fantastic Champions League drive against Real Madrid last season representing the midfielders best moment of the campaign. The Cameroon international has 54 caps for his nation, scoring 3 goals. The midfielder has started just 5 of his sides 11 games this term, scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory over Stade Brest, and is thought to be keen on a move to the Premier League. The energetic and athletic midfielder is very much in the Nigel Reo-Coker ilk and his contract runs out in 2012. A loan-to-buy option may well be on the cards with Villa rumoured to be favourites for the capture ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham. Any signing could well be bad news for the likes of Sidwell and even Stiliyan Petrov who is ageing and has not performed well this season.

Quality of Signing: 8/10

Likelihood: 7/10

Robert Pires

Club: Unattached

Reported Fee: Free Transfer

Former Arsenal winger, Robert Pires is looking for a new club after being released by Villarreal at the end of last season. The French midfielder, now 37, is unquestionably a Premier League icon having dazzled in his 5 years with the Gunners under Arsene Wenger. Pires has been training with the Arsenal reserves in order to keep fit for a return which he hopes to make in January. Pires clocked up 7,211 minutes playing time in his 103 league games with Arsenal netting an impressive 35 goals, a strike of a goal every 3 games (206 minutes to be precise). In his four seasons in Spain he matched his Arsenal league appearances and despite his age still had a goal per minute rate 1/324 in his final season with Villarreal. Robert Pires scored a memorable goal against Villa whilst at Arsenal and scored 3 in 7 against us. It is now believed that Pires is eyeing a return to England with Villa looking a very exciting option to the Frenchman who has also been linked to rivals Birmingham, Stoke and QPR.

“If I have an opportunity from Aston Villa, I will jump at it.”

Quality of Signing: 5

Likelihood: 5

Sulley Ali Muntari

Club: Inter Milan

Reported Fee: £8m

Ghana international midfielder is another name, like Diarra, who will be very familiar to Portsmouth fans. Muntari, 26, signed for the club from Udinese in 2007 for £7m under then manager Harry Redknapp. He helped Pompey to FA Cup Final success in his time at Fratton Park with his impressive performances meaning his spell in England was short lived. Muntari signed for Inter after just one season with Portsmouth for a fee in the region of £13m. The Ghanaian has never really managed to hold down a regular first team place with the Italian giants despite appearing 27 times in the league in his first 2 seasons at the San Siro. Under new manager Rafa Benitez, the 26-year-old is yet to start a league game though he did score the winner last time out in the 1-0 victory over Genoa. Benitez appears to be ready to offload the midfielder who, similarly to Diarra and Makoun is an efficient and tireless midfield presence. It is thought that Tottenham are extremely keen on the player and with Redknapp’s previous dealings with Muntari they are strong favourites for his capture. Liverpool have also been credited with an interest so Villa may well be up against it if they hope to seal this deal although again, he may get more game time under Gerard Houllier.

Quality of Signing: 7/10

Likelihood: 5/10

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