Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Blanc backs Villa's Pires approach

Robert Pires (right)

France coach Laurent Blanc has backed Gerard Houllier's bid to try and lure Robert Pires back to the Barclays Premier League at the age of 37.

Pires, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, has been in talks with Aston Villa boss Houllier about a potential move to the midlands club.

The former Arsenal star has been a free agent since his release by Villarreal in the summer, and Blanc, who played alongside Pires in Les Bleus' World Cup-winning squad 12 years ago, said: "If Gerard Houllier has made the decision, then Pires can offer something. He will not be wrong. Pires may be getting on in years but still has the skill and technique to bring something to the party at Aston Villa."

Should the deal go through, Pires will add experience to the Villa midfield at a time when Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell are sidelined through injury.

Houllier has been impressed with youngsters Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton but a fit and firing Pires would be a useful addition.

Pires, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal, has been training with the Gunners in recent weeks.

Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister said: "I believe he [Pires] is going to join us in the next two or three days.

"It's perfect. I am sure he will arrive at the training ground in good condition. He's a player everyone can look up to because of what he has achieved."

Meanwhile, Houllier has ruled out the possibility of signing Manchester United striker Michael Owen in January.

Houllier expects to have Emile Heskey and John Carew available after injury lay-offs within the next month but did admit new blood was needed, saying: "We definitely need to sign one or two players in January."

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