Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis is set to open preliminary talks with Newcastle counterpart Freddie Shepherd about signing James Milner on a permanent basis.
Milner, an England Under-21 international, is currently on loan at Villa and therefore ineligible to play against Newcastle at Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa manager David O’Leary would like to sign Milner but could struggle to meet United’s asking price.
A fortnight ago, O’Leary had to allow Eirik Bakke to return to Leeds as Villa could not afford his wages.
O’Leary said: “James Milner cost Newcastle £5million plus add-ons when they signed him from Leeds and that sort of money takes us out of the equation.
“He is not spectacular but plays at a high level of consistency and is a very functional player.
“Newcastle must have thought they could not go wrong allowing him to join Villa on loan as he could only improve with us.
“Villa did a great bit of business when he joined us. Nobby Solano came for £1.5m and they gave us back that money when he returned to Newcastle and we took Milner on loan for a year without any fee being paid.
“No doubt Doug Ellis, will be speaking to Freddie Shepherd at the game tomorrow. ”