Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard will put all his efforts into securing the signing of Yves Bissouma next, despite Brighton sticking a prohibitive transfer fee on the talented midfielder.
The January transfer window has already proved extremely productive for Villa and Gerrard. Fresh from the exciting signing of Philippe Coutinho, a £25m deal to snare Lucas Digne from Everton is nearing completion. That is expected to go through later on Thursday, freeing the player to make his debut against Manchester United on Saturday.
Villa bosses have certainly backed Gerrard with the cash he needs to transform Villa’s fortunes. He identified both left-back and attacking midfield as areas of concern when he took charge.
However, his next priority is to strengthen his midfield – and it seems Brighton’s Bissouma is his No 1 target.
Bissouma is away with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations, but questions are still being asked about his future.
Indeed, reports earlier this week outlined Villa’s interest in the 25-year-old.
He currently has just 18 months left on his deal, a fact that has alerted not only Villa, but also Liverpool too.
Brighton are understandably ready to open talks with Bissouma over an extension at the Amex. He is a crucial element in Graham Potter’s side and is a big factor behind their safe placing in mid-table.
However, they are well aware of the growing interest in the player and are reportedly sticking a prohibitive £50m fee on his head.
That, however, is unlikely to deter Gerrard and the Birmingham Mail suggest he’s a player at the front of Gerrard’s mind.
Any deal is likely to cost Villa a club-record fee. That currently stands at the £34.5m paid to Norwich for Emiliano Buendia.
Potter makes Yves Bissouma admission
Potter though is refusing to give up on Yves Bissouma without a fight.
However, he’s also making an admission about the club’s standing in the football pyramid, suggesting they could sell to a larger club.
“The contract is something between the player and the club,” Potter said (via MEN).
Yves Bissouma to cost Aston Villa, Liverpool £50m
Liverpool and Aston Villa will pursue Yves Bissouma despite the £50m cost set by Brighton
“We are comfortable with where we are at, we know the situation. I will just try to help him when he comes back from the AFCON and help him get back to his best.
“When he does that, he is a top player. We want to keep all our players but I also understand the way the market is and the way football is. We understand where we are in the football pyramid.
“You know that things can happen. But my expectation is that we’ll have a strong squad come the end of the transfer window.”
Lucas Digne set for Villa medical
Digne, meanwhile, will undergo a medical at Villa on Thursday with his move likely to go through later in the day.
Digne, signed by Everton from Barcelona in August 2018, said in a post on Instagram that he “loved to be a part of the Everton family”.
He added: “Only one year ago I signed a new contract with the ambition of staying in this club for a long time, giving everything for my club, for the development and project, that I believed in – and for the passionate fans.
“My dream was helping the club back where it belongs. Wearing the captain’s armband in some matches always made me proud.
“Everything must come to an end. I just did not expect it to end this way. What has happened and some things that was said about me in the last month has made me very sad. But I will not enter a war on words with anyone.
“The club don’t deserve that, the fans don’t deserve that – and to be honest, I don’t feel that I deserve that. There are so many good and decent people in and around Everton who want the best for this club and not only for themself. And to them I can only say from my heart: I wish you the best!
“Thank you, to all you wonderful, proud and passionate true Evertonians. It has been an honour and a true pleasure to play for you, the fans, the people. This club do not belong to a player or a manager, but to the fans. I will always carry you with me in my heart wherever I go.
“Sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair. All the best to @everton and Evertonians.”