Villa close in on Makoun
Aston Villa are close to sealing a £6.5million deal to sign Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun.
Villa manager Gerard Houllier flew to his native France to hold talks with his former club on Wednesday over Makoun. The signs are positive that Cameroon international Makoun is on the verge of becoming Houllier's first major signing since taking charge at Villa.
It remains to be seen whether 27-year-old Makoun would receive clearance in time to feature in Sunday's derby at Birmingham should a deal be struck.
Houllier has already admitted Makoun would be a major asset if he joins Villa.
He said: "Makoun could be a good asset for us because he is experienced, has played in the Champions League with Lille and Lyon.
"He is exactly what we need at times. He can play as a holding player or as a box-to-box midfielder."
Houllier remains interested in signing Blackpool captain Charlie Adam after making an improved £3.5 million bid, although Ian Holloway has said he will only sell to a top-four club.
The Frenchman is also looking for a long-term replacement for veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel, but Villa have denied reports they have made a formal bid to sign Peterborough's former England Under-21 stopper Joe Lewis.
Chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "The simple truth is we haven't made a bid for the Peterborough goalkeeper."
Former Liverpool boss Houllier is also keen to bring in a new striker during January.