Aston Villa have stepped up their pursuit of Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure by submitting a £10m offer, according to reports in France.
The Mali international has come onto Villa’s radar in recent days and could be their next major target. It has already been a productive summer for Dean Smith’s side with the arrivals of Emiliano Buendia, Ashley Young, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey, plus the loan return of Axel Tuanzebe. The next player they could turn to is Doucoure.
Villa have been chasing another central midfielder all summer. For example, they were linked with Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. However, Doucoure seems to be the player occupying most of their thoughts at present.
In fact, they have made an opening offer worth £10m, according to Made In Lens. It was not enough to tempt the Ligue 1 outfit into selling, though.
The report added that Lens are looking for a fee between €15m and €18m, which equates to £12.7m-£15.3m.
Villa must now return to the drawing board and decide whether or not to increase their offer for Doucoure. Interestingly, the website adds that Lens have also received an enquiry from Arsenal.
But it is Villa who have been further ahead in their pursuit of the signing, so a fresh offer could increase their chances of winning the race for the 21-year-old.
Doucoure has been a Lens regular for the past three seasons, the most recent of which was spent in Ligue 1. The new campaign is already underway in France and he played all of their league opener against Rennes.
Still under contract until 2024, the defensive midfielder could have a decision to make if Villa return.
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The 25-year-old signed for the Cottagers in the summer of 2018. He made 16 starts among 22 Premier League outings in his first season in west London. However, Fulham suffered relegation and, keen not to play in the Championship, he was loaned to Spanish club Villarreal.
The Cameroon international saw plenty of action in LaLiga, with 28 starts and 36 top-flight outings for El Submarino Amarillo. He returned to the capital last season but was once again part of the Fulham side to go down.
Scott Parker gave him the midfield enforcer role and he was seen 36 times in the league. But, with the prospect of playing in England’s second tier not appealing, the African wants out.
He did not feature in the matchday squad for Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Sunday. And, The Athletic suggest a desire to leave was behind his omission.
Villa are among his main admirers, while Everton and Roma have also been linked.