Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villans Close in on Magpies Defenders; Magpies Pair Are Wanted by Villa

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villans Close in on Magpies Defenders; Magpies Pair Are Wanted by Villa

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

ASTON Villa are confident of signing Habib Beye before the week is out, and will then turn their attentions to the right-back's defensive colleague Sebastin Bassong.

The deals will leave Newcastle United caretaker manager Chris Hughton clearer as to the players available to him next season, and could provide extra funds for the club's next boss in the transfer market.

With the Magpies for sale, United have delayed off-loading their highearners for as long as possible.

The intention has been not to deprive the new owner - and the manager he appoints - of players they might want to work with.

But the result has been to exacerbate the confusion surrounding the club and leave unhappy individuals to potentially poison the training ground atmosphere.

The logjam was finally cleared on Friday when striker Obafemi Martins joined Bundesliga side Wolfsburg. At the time it was unclear whether the pounds 8m deal was a one-off to help the club pay its August wage bill, or the start of a trend.

It now appears to be the latter. Villa manager Martin O'Neill had been almost as inactive in the transfer market as Newcastle, only signing free transfer Courtney Cameron and convalescing Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing before yesterday.

But, as at St James's, the floodgates now appear to have opened.

Villa last night completed the sign-inof Leeds United youngster Fabian Delph, while sources in the Midlands suggest they are hopeful of adding both Beye and former Newcastle centre-back Sylvain Distin to their squad this week. They are then expected to step up their interest in Bassong., Blackburn Rovers leftback Stephen Warnock and Real Madrid's Wesley Sneijder. Hull City are also interested in Beye, but only seem likely to be able to add him to their embarrassingly long list of transfer market failures this summer. Villa are thought to be ready to meet Newcastle's pounds 4m valuation, whereas the Tigers have offered just half of it. …

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