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.