Alex McLeish hopes to persuade Scott Parker to join Aston Villa this week, when the new Villa manager looks to begin spending the proceeds of Stewart Downing's £20m sale on Charles N'Zogbia, Shay Given and the West Ham captain.
The deal with Wigan Athletic for N'Zogbia has already been agreed and the player, who will cost around £10m, should sign this week. Manchester City want £5m for Given and have already rejected a bid of £2m from Villa but should settle for between £3m and £4m.
Parker, 30, has been looked at by Arsenal and Tottenham as a possible acquisition this summer. Spurs have been slow off the mark in this transfer window with chairman Daniel Levy focusing his efforts on selling around six squad players – they have taken 28 on tour to South Africa – including David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and Wilson Palacios before he starts sanctioning new signings.
McLeish hopes that he can use the Downing money from Liverpool to sign Parker this week. The midfielder is valued at around £9m and has been the subject of interest from his former club Chelsea, who would like him on loan. For Villa, a return of three players with the revenue from Downing shows why the club were prepared to sell the England winger. The club are also on the look-out for a left-back, with Stephen Warnock keen to move back to the north-west.
The former Villa manager Gérard Houllier claimed yesterday that he still had "unfinished business" in the game even though heart problems in April eventually forced him to step down from the manager's job. He said he would "definitely be linked with football" in the future.
"We had a case of unfinished business [at Villa]," he added. "There was an option of leaving the team to Gary McAllister, who was my assistant, and I would come back in September but the chairman and owner wanted to go another route and I have to respect that. We left on good terms, no acrimony.
"I just want to make sure I get fit again and then we'll see. But I will follow the doctors' advice and if the advice is not to get back into management, I won't. The strong advice was not to go back to business until the end of September but they are happy with the recovery."