Patrik Berger has agreed a two-year deal with Aston Villa and, having passed a medical-last night, will sign for the club on a free transfer on July 1.
David O'Leary, the Villa manager, has long admired Berger's creative abilities on the left of centre midfield, and has been tracking the player for the past 18 months.
Berger is a former Czech Republic international midfield player, aged 31, who will leave Portsmouth on June 30 after two seasons. He was previously with Liverpool for seven years, where he won winners medals in the Uefa Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.
Berger will not come cheaply - he is likely to be among the highest-paid players at Villa Park - but his international pedigree will be useful at a time when the squad seems to lack strength in depth.
"It is an exciting move for me," Berger said. "I have agreed to join from July 1 and I am already looking forward to my first season here at Villa Park.
"As soon as I knew there was interest from Aston Villa, I wanted to come here. This is a big club with a great history and I'm looking forward to the start of pre- season training.
"David O'Leary was the main factor. He said he would like to have me here and that was enough for me. I like the style of football he plays here. He likes to play football and so do I. I've played here quite a few times, but it's a different feeling coming here knowing I'll be playing for Villa next season.
"It is a fantastic ground and I have great memories right from my very first game here when the Czech Republic beat Portugal [in the quarterfinal] in Euro 96."
O'Leary is likely to sign four more players but the arrival of Berger emphasises Villa's intentions at what is a transitional time in the club's history. It is a good move for Berger, too, as this is clearly a step forwards after a relegation battle with Portsmouth.
Berger first came to prominence in England during the 1996 European Championships. He helped the Czech Republic reach the final, playing at Villa Park on the way, and scored at Wembley when they lost to Germany to finish runners-up.
He is arguably the Czech who has had the most profound effect on the Premiership over the past decade. He scored 35 goals in 196 matches for Liverpool and might still be at Anfield but for a serious knee injury in 2000 that slowed him down.
While this signing will not be seen as the one to assuage those Villa supporters who are concerned for the future, it is a taster of what one might expect from O'Leary this summer.
Berger is past his peak but still of international quality. Besides, some observers were saying that Nolberto Solano was past his peak when he signed for Villa in January 2004, yet he has been a significant success.
If O'Leary does with Berger as he has done with Solano, this signing will be one of the most important in the club's recent history. O'Leary is leading the chase to sign Kevin Phillips, the England international striker, from Southampton for £1.85 million. Many of Villa's goals this season have come midfield and the strikers, chiefly Juan Pablo Angel, Darius Vassell and Carlton Cole, have failed to match their reputations.
Stefan Postma, the Villa goalkeeper, expects to be fit for pre- season training, despite suffering kneeligament damage.
"I had an examination," Postma said. "There is no lasting damage, so I'll be back for pre-season training. I am obviously relieved at the outcome.
"It is a weight off my mind and it means I can enjoy the summer knowing I will be ready to join pre-season training."