Football: Villa table pounds 6m offer for unsettled Merson

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ASTON VILLA are making a pounds 6m offer to take Paul Merson from Middlesbrough to replace Dwight Yorke. John Gregory, the manager, has identified the England player as the ideal replacement for the role of floating striker and he has funds from the pounds 12.6m sale of Yorke to Manchester United.

The deal could progress quickly this week, with Merson interested in moving south despite protestations to the contrary by Boro yesterday. Merson has been commuting since his move from Arsenal over a year ago and that domestic reason is the main cause of his unhappiness.

Middlesbrough denied yesterday that Merson wants to leave, but Villa's interest is genuine and third parties have approached other clubs. Everton, for one, are not interested.