Nigel Reo-Coker will become Aston Villa’s second most expensive signing if his £8.5 m move from West Ham goes through today.
Only Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel cost more when he moved from River Plate to Villa Park in January 2001 during John Gregory’s reign as manager.
But that record could be smashed if O’Neill pursues his interest in Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe and Chelsea midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips over the next couple of weeks.
Villa’s deal to sign Ashley Young from Watford during the transfer window six months ago could eventually rise from £8m to £9.65m but that will depend on add-ons relating to appearances and international call-ups.
Reo-Coker has been given permission to begin talks with Villa after the two clubs finally agreed a fee for the England Under-21 captain subject to him agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.
The midfielder is set to sign a four-year contract which will signal the end of his spell with the Hammers, the club he joined from Wimbledon for £500,000 in January 2004.
Reo-Coker made 142 league and cup appearances for the club, scoring 11 goals and skippering them to promotion to the Barclays Premiership in 2005 and the FA Cup final 12 months later.
The 23-year-old will take a holiday before joining his new team-mates after playing for his country during the European Under-21 Championships last month.
O’Neill has been looking to bolster his midfield after the departure of Gavin McCann to Bolton, while Steven Davis is expected to join Fulham in a £4 million deal.
The Villa boss has been tracking Reo-Coker since he handed in a transfer request at the end of last season.
Manchester City made a late attempt to try and lure Reo-Coker to Eastlands but his first choice was always Villa.
He will already be well acquainted with Young and defender Gary Cahill who were all part of the Under-21 squad which reached the semi-finals in Holland a fortnight ago before losing 13-12 on penalties to the host nation.
West Ham confirmed the £8.5 million fee on their official web-site, www.whufc.com, while a Villa spokesman said: “We have agreed a fee with West Ham for Nigel Reo-Coker subject to a medical and to agreeing personal terms which hopefully will be confirmed on today.”