Emile Heskey has emerged as Sven-Goran Eriksson’s top transfer target – giving Aston Villa a dilemma over whether to cash in on the former Leicester favourite this summer.
The Foxes have yet to formally contact Villa about Heskey but are preparing to tempt the claret and blues with a £1 million-plus offer for the ex-England battering ram.
Eriksson remains a huge admirer of Heskey from their Three Lions days and the striker is thought to fancy ending his career with an emotional return to his boyhood club.
Villa must resolve the future of manager Gerard Houllier, another Heskey fan, along with the fate of other key players before considering the targetman’s situation.
Ashley Young’s contract will be the top priority after a decision on Houllier has been announced with Liverpool and Manchester United weighing up offers for the striker.
But with Heskey now 33 years old and with just over 12 months of his contract remaining, Villa could be open to the possibility of receiving a fee for the veteran powerhouse.
And as they look to reduce the wage bill, losing Heskey’s £50,000-per-week income could also be attractive if Villa can bolster their attack with a younger player.
According to sources in the East Midlands, Eriksson will receive huge financial backing in a make-or-break attempt to win promotion to the Premier League next season.
After missing out on the play-offs in his first campaign, the experienced Swedish coach has one year left on his contract in which to return the Foxes to the top flight.
Leicester have been in talks with Everton about a permanent deal for Yakubu after the Nigerian international scored 11 goals in his 20-game loan spell.
But Eriksson believes Heskey could offer a stronger all-round presence than Yakubu.
Meanwhile, Darren Bent continues to earn plaudits from his team-mates after taking his goal tally to nine in 15 games with his winning double at Arsenal.
Luke Young, who played with Bent at Charlton, has backed the England star to score 20 goals for Villa given an injury-free run next season.
“If you pick him week-in and week-out, he’s going to get you 20 goals in the Premier League.”