Nilis set to quit game

Aston Villa striker Luc Nilis is set to announce his retirement next week after losing his fight to recover from his horrific leg injury.

Aston Villa striker Luc Nilis is set to announce his retirement next week after losing his fight to recover from his horrific leg injury.

The Belgium international has been recuperating in his native country since suffering a double fracture to his right leg in the Premiership clash with Ipswich at Portman Road.

The 33-year-old sustained the injury in a collision with Ipswich keeper Richard Wright and there were immediate fears that it would signal the end of his playing days.

That is now almost certain to be confirmed in a statement he is planning to release next week.

His agent Dick Degraen admitted: "There is news on Luc's condition, but we will not be saying anything until next week when a statement will be made."

Nilis signed for Villa from PSV Eindhoven on a free transfer last summer after playing in Euro 2000 and he was seen as a key figure in their push for a Champions League place.

But his injury left a void which Villa manager John Gregory has been trying to fill ever since, via failed attempts to land Celta Vigo's Benni McCarthy and River Plate's Juan Pablo Angel.

The Angel deal collapsed on Friday because Fifa were unhappy with the financial aspects of the deal, just hours before the player was set to fly to Birmingham to tie matters up.

But the Argentine club will try after the weekend to try and salvage the £9.5m transaction even though Villa chairman Doug Ellis has faxed them to say the deal is off.

They are sending representatives to Villa Park and are determined to try and make sure the deal can be rectified without any involvement from Angel's agent Gustavo Muscardi.

It was his part in the move - he owns half of Angel's contract and is vice-president of River Plate - that led to Fifa refusing to sanction the transaction.

Gregory would still like the deal to go through although he is being linked today with a move for Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp.

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