Gerrard prepared to rival Arsenal, Liverpool with Villa in the mix for top-class midfielder

Nicolo Barella competing with Denis Zakaria

Aston Villa are ready to battle Arsenal and Liverpool for the signing of Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria, according to reports.

Zakaria is in line for a Premier League transfer this summer after opting to leave German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach. A recent club statement read: ‘Denis has informed the club of his intention to leave in the summer after five years at Gladbach.’

The announcement has put Arsenal and Liverpool on alert. Mikel Arteta wants a holding midfielder and the Gunners are reportedly ‘in contact’ with Zakaria’s agent.

Liverpool are yet to open discussions but could follow Arsenal’s lead over the next few months.

The Daily Mail reveal Aston Villa as being an interested party who could swoop in to land Zakaria.

It does not state how they would complete a deal, although Steven Gerrard’s side do have the necessary funds. They would just need to meet his £80,000-a-week wage demands.

The only problem for the Villans is the pull of European football emerging from Arsenal and Liverpool. Zakaria wants the next step in his career and Villa may not quite be able to provide that.

Coutinho for just £7.5m but Arsenal want loan deal

Arsenal want a trial period before they decide if they want to buy.

Gerrard gave an update on Villa’s pursuit of players on New Year’s Day. “The important thing is we’ll only make signings if we feel they’re the right ones for the team and for the club to move us forward and to improve us,” he said.

“We won’t make them for the sake of it just to add volume.

“We are looking and assessing certain players for certain positions in the squad. I won’t give too much away because my phone will go on fire and start smoking with agents, which I don’t want.

“We’ve had some good, positive meetings and we have identified certain individuals we’d like to bring in.”

Gerrard reacts to Aston Villa defeat

Villa’s most recent outing ended in a 2-1 defeat to Brentford away from home.

Gerrard’s men went ahead through Danny Ings, following some nice footwork from Emi Buendia. But goals from Yoane Wissa and Mads Roerslev gave the Bees all three points.

After the game, Gerrard said: “I couldn’t believe we were level at half-time because the performance was really strong.

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“It seemed to be a matter of when the second goal was going to come. In the second half we had a lot of possession, we created chances, but I’m really disappointed how we conceded the second goal. It’s a catalogue of errors.

“When I first come into this job we got some positive strong results because there was a lot of grit and people were putting their bodies on the line. I didn’t see that for the second goal.

“They’ve had three good attacks today and scored two goals. That’s not good enough from our point of view.”

READ MORE: Gerrard ‘expected’ to battle Benitez as Villa and Everton eye £40m rated Prem starlet