Robert Pires to join Aston Villa

Aston Villa today confirmed that former Arsenal and France midfielder Robert Pires will join the club later this week.

The 1998 World Cup winner has been in talks with the club as a free agent following his release by Spanish side Villarreal in the summer.

Villa boss Gerard Houllier is currently short of options in midfield due to injuries while Pires has been training with Arsenal and could be thrown into action quickly.

Pires, 37, won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners as well as the European Championship trophy in 2000 with France.

Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister told the club's website, avfc.co.uk: "Robert has been training at Arsenal.

"I know the boss and Arsene Wenger are very friendly and I believe he's going to join us in the next two or three days.

"It's perfect. I am sure he will arrive at the training ground in good condition. He's a player everyone can look up to because of what he has achieved."

Meanwhile, Houllier has ruled out the possibility of trying to sign Manchester United striker Michael Owen in January.

Houllier was previously in charge of Owen during his successful spell at Liverpool.

But the Frenchman confirmed he will not attempt to be reunited with the former England player during the next transfer window.

Houllier expects to have Emile Heskey and John Carew available after injury lay-offs within the next month.

Gabriel Agbonlahor has already returned to action after six weeks on the sidelines following groin surgery.

When asked if he would try to sign Owen in January, Houllier said: "No, no. In terms of some strikers Emile and John will come back.

"There is no point."

But Houllier did confirm: "We definitely need to sign one or two players in January."

Houllier has called for patience in giving his crop of exciting young players, such as Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan, time to develop.

He said: "The only thing with young players is you need sometimes to be patient and sometimes to be indulgent.

"I think at some stage one of them will have a very poor game but you must not judge on one game. It's a whole picture thing.

"That's what I said to young Bannan because he was distraught after the game against Burnley in the Carling Cup.

"I said 'hang on, you're not in the team because of one game'. He thought it was a make-or-break game.

"I said 'no, it's a whole thing, you will miss games, you will have better games'.

"Sometimes they are a little bit impatient."

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