Portuguese right-back Nelson could be back on the Aston Villa radar after his agent revealed talks with his club Benfica have stalled over his future.
Agent Ulisses Santos claimed that his 24-year-old client was “not satisified” with talks with new Benfica boss Quique Sanchez Flores after demanding showdown talks with the Bwin Liga club over the current wage structure.
Nelson is said to be at the lower end of the pay scale compared to his team-mates but still has more than two years of his contract to run. He had been signed to stay with the Portuguese giants until the 2010-11 season.
But Santos confirmed that, with the talks reaching a sticking point, his player was now contemplating a future away from Portugal. He said:
“My player is not satisifed with the current arrangements. There are further talks planned but there has been interest from other clubs including clubs in England should Benfica agree to let him go.”
Aston Villa have long been admirers of the attacking full back with Villa manager Martin O’Neill desperate for a right-sided defender following the departure of temporary right-back Olof Mellberg to Sweden.
Meanwhile, the revolving door at Villa Park continues to expedite players with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitezconfirming he has begun shipping out his surplus players in a bid to find the £15 million he will need to prise England midfielder Gareth Barry from Villa’s grasp.
The Villa skipper is currently on holiday in Spain with his family but is expected back at the weekend to finally resolve his future with O’Neill now seemingly resigned to having to allow the 27-year-old star to leave Villa Park.
Benitez has finally reached an agreement with Juventus over midfielder Xabi Alonso who is expected to reap in around £16?million for the Reds – the majority of which the Anfield boss will hand over to Villa for Barry who has served for a decade in claret and blue but is now adamant he wants Champions League football sooner rather than later.
Benitez is still trying to offload £15?million-rated Peter Crouch, right-back John Arne Riise and former Birmingham City winger Jermaine Pennant but scources in Liverpool say none of those are now likely to be heading south down the M6 to the Midlands with O’Neill thought to be insistent on a cash-only deal.
Meanwhile, Villa supporters despondent at the apparent lack of transfer activity involving their club so far this summer are finally being given an indication yet that new blood may be arriving sooner rather than later.
It is thought once “Garethgate” is resolved, O’Neill – currently away on punditry duty with the BBC at Euro 2008 – will get down to business ahead of next month’s Intertoto campaign.
As well as mounting speculation over Nelson, there were reports of possible Villa interest in Fulham’s Jimmy Bullard. Bullard, a Fulham favourite, played a major role in keeping the Cottagers in the Premier League on the last day of the season following a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth.
The former Wigan star is said to be considering his future and manager Roy Hodgson intimated he may have to let the £3?million-rated midfielder go. Bullard, who scored one of his trademark free-kicks against Villa last season, spent most of the campaign out with injury but fought back to be instrumental in the club’s relegation fight-back.
Blackburn, currently looking to Alan Shearer to take over as manager following Mark Hughes’ departure to Manchester City, and West Ham are also said to be keen on the 29-year-old although a move back to the North West and Bolton or even his former club Wigan could yet be on the cards.
Chelsea misfit Steve Sidwell, who is also understood to be of interest to Villa and Middlesbrough, is at the centre of a further delay over his future.
After initially saying he wanted to hang on at Chelsea to see who Avram Grant’s replacement in the managerial hot-seat would be before contemplating his future, he is now said to be demanding a £3?million “golden handshake” for leaving.
Such histrionics unlikely to endear him to O’Neill with the Intertoto campaign now little more than a month away.