Alpay to be offered way out of Villa by Hertha

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The Turkey defender Alpay Ozalan will be offered a chance to leave Aston Villa by the German club Hertha Berlin when the transfer window reopens in January.

Alpay, who is not the most popular player at Villa Park after announcing his desire to leave the club during Graham Taylor's reign, will find himself even less welcome following his taunting of the England captain, David Beckham, during Saturday's goalless Euro 2004 qualifier in Istanbul.

Hertha, who have made a poor start to the Bundesliga season, have money to spend and are eager to strengthen their defence in January. Alpay was once valued at £4m but may now be available for £1m.

The defender, who shone during his country's run to third place in the 2002 World Cup, endured a miserable time under Villa's former manager Taylor but he has returned to the first-team fold since David O'Leary took charge in the summer.

Alpay claims criticism from fans and the media could force him out. The former Besiktas and Fenerbahce defender believes he has been "crucified" by the media and supporters because of the bad blood between England and Turkey in recent times.

However, Aston Villa declined to make any official comment yesterday, with their international players - Alpay included - still not yet back in training at Bodymoor Heath.