Aston Villa open talks to sign €15m Ligue 1 midfield destroyer

Cheick Doucoure of Lens (l) and Abdoulaye Toure of Nantes battle for possession

Aston Villa have reportedly begun discussions over a summer swoop for Lens defensive midfielder Cheick Doucoure.

The 21-year-old had an impressive season with the Ligue 1 outfit last year, scoring four times and adding an assist from his midfield holding role. That form led to a number of clubs showing interest, with Villa leading the way among Premier League sides.

According to Goal, Villa have already made contact with the player’s representatives but they are yet to submit a formal bid.

Lens are reportedly chasing a fee of around €15million (£12.7m) for the player, a figure that won’t cause an issue for Villa.

Doucoure is highly regarded in France and would likely compete with Douglas Luiz for the starting spot, if he does sign.

Villa are flush with cash after Jack Grealish completed a £100m switch to Manchester City. However, Dean Smith is determined to spend that money wisely.

August 9 Transfer Chatter - Bernardo Silva offered in swap deal, Man Utd's Camavinga boost and Spurs chase Inter forward

August 9 Transfer Chatter - Bernardo Silva offered in swap deal, Man Utd's Camavinga boost and Spurs chase Inter forward

Bernardo Silva has been offered to Spurs for Harry Kane, while Fabio Paratici is using his knowledge of Italy to chase Romelu Lukaku's strike partner at Inter Milan, and Lionel Messi moving to PSG could hand Manchester United a boost, all in today's transfer chatter.

So far they have brought in Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, Danny Ings, Ashley Young and Axel Tuanzebe.

More are expected to follow as Villa look to improve on their 11th-placed finish from last season.

Norwich star told to make Villa switch

Meanwhile, Norwich star Todd Cantwell has ‘done his time’ at Carrow Road and should join Aston Villa this summer, according to pundit Kevin Campbell.

Aston Villa are looking for creative reinforcements after allowing talisman Jack Grealish to join Manchester City. The Premier League champions spent £100m to secure his services, making Grealish the most expensive British player of all time.

Todd Cantwell plays for Norwich

Villa have already bolstered their ranks with the signings of Emi Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey for a total of around £95m.

Cantwell and Buendia formed a great partnership over the last three seasons. And the Englishman could now follow him to Villa Park.

Former Arsenal striker Campbell thinks it’s time for the playmaker to ‘step up’. “Cantwell is a really good young player,” he told Football Insider.

“I don’t think he’s a direct Grealish replacement, they don’t quite play in the same position. I think Leon Bailey will take that left side role in the attack.

“He’s done his time at Norwich, now it’s time for him to step up. He’s got his mate there at Villa, hasn’t he? Emi Buendia is there obviously.

“To me, it seems like Villa are trying to replace Grealish with three or four players rather than one.”

READ MORE: Villa nudge ahead of Everton, Leicester in battle for £30m Serie A ace