Villa still keen on Sidwell

Aston Villa are still striving to thrash out a deal to make Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell their first summer signing.

Reports last night Villa had already agreed a fee for the 25-year-old player were described as “premature” by sources close to the midlands club.

But Villa are still optimistic a fee – believed to be in the region of £5m – will eventually be struck with Chelsea, although it may not happen until next week.

Sidwell has been one of manager Martin O’Neill’s main transfer targets since the season ended.

He played a significant role in Reading establishing themselves against the odds in the Barclays Premier League two years ago before moving to Stamford Bridge on a free transfer in the summer of 2007.

At the time Sidwell maintained he had not agreed to move to Chelsea “just to make up the numbers” amid fierce competition for places in the centre of the park.

The former Arsenal trainee, who has also attracted interest from Manchester City, had limited opportunities under Jose Mourinho and then Avram Grant as Chelsea narrowly missed out on Premier League and Champions League glory.

Sidwell made only 15 starts last season and will now look to rebuild his career under O’Neill if and when a move goes through.

He will have the hunger and desire to succeed – plus still having age on his side – that are qualities O’Neill looks for in a player.

O’Neill has a number of other targets in the pipeline, including Blackburn winger David Bentley who has been linked with a £15m switch to Villa.

He is aware of the need to considerably bolster what was the smallest squad in the Premier League last season.

O’Neill has already lost the services of Olof Mellberg, Patrik Berger and Thomas Sorensen, while Scott Carson has ended his season-long loan from Liverpool.

And midfielder Gareth Barry is certain to leave once Liverpool match O’Neill’s £18m valuation of his captain.

El-Hadji Diouf, Darren Bent, Jimmy Bullard, Tom Huddlestone, James Milner, Aaron Lennon and Pascal Chimbonda are all possible targets along with Sporting Braga right-back Joao Pereira and Crystal Palace teenager Shaun Scannell.

More in this Section

5 talking points ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action5 talking points ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action

Champions Cup team news: Calvin Nash to make Euro debut as academy duo named on benchChampions Cup team news: Calvin Nash to make Euro debut as academy duo named on bench

Solskjaer dismisses Klopp’s criticism of Manchester United’s playing styleSolskjaer dismisses Klopp’s criticism of Manchester United’s playing style

Palace goalkeeper Lucy Gillett claims she received sexist abuse during gamePalace goalkeeper Lucy Gillett claims she received sexist abuse during game


Lifestyle

Bryan Stevenson is the American civil rights lawyer who provided the inspiration for the newly-released film Just Mercy. Esther McCarthy spoke to him in IrelandReal-life lawyer Bryan Stevenson on inspiring Just Mercy

So I’ve booked my holidays. And before you ask, yes, I’m basing it around food and wine. I’ll report back in July, but I thought readers might be interested in my plan should you be thinking about a similar holiday.Wines to pick up on a trip to France

Esther N McCarthy is on a roll for the new year with sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes.Wish List: Sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes

They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

More From The Irish Examiner