Belgian international striker Christian Benteke has emerged as a leading target for Villa as Paul Lambert looks to strengthen his squad before tomorrow’s transfer deadline.
Villa’s scouts have watched Benteke in action several times and Lambert is believed to be pursuing a deal for the 21-year-old powerhouse who plays for Belgian top flight club Genk.
Benteke, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has started the season with three goals and one assist in five games to lift Genk to sixth in the Jupiler Pro League table.
The former Standard Liege frontman, who is 6ft 3ins tall, found the net 18 times in 47 games in all competitions for Genk and Belgium under-21s last season.
Having progressed through the Belgian age-groups, he has been capped five times by the full national side and scored his first international goal in this month’s 4-2 friendly victory over Holland.
Villa are in the market for a strong frontman to boost their forward options and provide competition and support for Darren Bent, Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann and Nathan Delfouneso.
Since veteran targetman Emile Heskey was released at the end of his contract in the summer, the claret and blues have lacked a physical presence up front. Villa’s initial approach was turned down by Genk, which is now considering an improved offer from the claret and blues.
n Villa are understood to have signed fullback Joe Bennett from Middlesbrough, subject to personal terms being agreed.