N’Zogbia pursuit is hotting up

Charles N'Zogbia and Mohamed Diame
Charles N'Zogbia and Mohamed Diame

ASTON Villa – still the hot favourites in the race to tempt Charles N’Zogbia away from Latics – are believed to be preparing to make a bid for the flying Frenchman over the next couple of days.

Newly-installed Villa Park boss Alex McLeish is desperate to fill the gap left by former captain Ashley Young, who signed for Manchester United last week.

And Latics ace N’Zogbia fits the bill as an ideal replacement.

Speculation indicates that a bid of around £9 million will be handed into Latics from Villa, who will have that kind of money to spend should, as expected, Stewart Downing moves to Liverpool for a fee of around £20 million.

McLeish is hoping to get his man at the second time of asking after the 25-year-old’s move to the Scot’s former club Birmingham collapsed last season.

McLeish thought he had wrapped up the signing in August when he was in charge at St Andrew’s, only for the move to stall at the final hurdle when N’Zogbia demanded increased terms.

McLeish now has a higher wage structure at Villa Park, so the chance of clinching a deal is much more likely and Villa have recently hardened up their interest in the highly-rated playmaker.

But there are also a host of other Premier League clubs said to be fighting for his signature.

A source close to the Frenchman has revealed that a busy few days were expected as the transfer window officially opens up today.

“A number of clubs are interested and there will be plenty of activity over the coming days,” said the source.

“A decision could be made soon but it’s too early to say where he could move to.

“The next few days are important.”

N’Zogbia’s former employees, Newcastle, are also believed to be in the race, as are Sunderland, while Everton and Liverpool have both been linked.

Normandy-born N’Zogbia, who joined Latics from Newcastle in February, 2009, made 38 league and cup appearances last season.

He scored 10 goals – nine in the Premier League and one in a 2-1 League Cup victory against Preston North End last September.