Aston Villa have been linked with interest in giant Serbian striker Nikola Zigic as Martin O’Neill prepares his squad for the InterToto Cup return against Odense at Villa Park this weekend.
Zigic, who stands 6ft 7in, is said to be on the radar at Villa after reports from Spain which claimed that new Valencia coach Unai Emery had told the giant centre-forward that he no longer featured in his plans at La Mestalla.
The Serbian international has long been linked with reports of a move to England and Valencia’s sporting director Juan Sanchez moved that interest onby claiming that Villa had made an offer for the former Racing Santander star, with the player set to mull over his options and return with an answer in the next couple of days.
Villa already have big Norwegian striker John Carew and home-grown star Gabby Agbonlahor as well as Shaun Maloney available to play up front but O’Neill is known to be looking to strengthen his squad in all areas ahead of what he hopes will be a successful Uefa Cup run with Villa this season and the chance of closing the gap still further on the top four Premier League sides.
Valencia director Juan Sanchez said: “The player and his agent know about the offer and we expect them to make a decision in the coming days.”
Carew himself, meanwhile, has assured supporters Villa will get it right on Saturday when they entertain Odense Boldklub at Villa Park in a 5.15pm kick-off.
A bumper crowd is expected for the return leg of the competition with a win ensuring the victor a place in the next stage of the Uefa Cup.
Carew opened the scoring against the Danish Superliga side after only seven minutes on Saturday but Villa twice lost their lead – first when a calamitous Steve Sidwell own goal cancelled out Carew’s effort and then Odense’s Moller Christensen slammed home an injury-time equaliser after Villa’s own Great Dane Martin Laursen looked to have given Villa the edge.
Carew played at Valencia between 2001-2004, featuring in the 2001 Champions League final for the Spaniards who ultimately lost on penalties.
Carew, who joined Villa in January 2007 in an exchange deal for Milan Baros from Lyon, insists Villa will make sure the next fixture counts and secures their European future.
The striker – Villa’s top scorer last season with 13 goals – said: “We knew it was going to be a difficult game because Odense were playing at home in front of an enthusiastic public. We got a good start but they came back, then we scored again but then they came back again. It was a good game but unfortunately we didn’t win.
“It is early in the season and this was a difficult game for us after just two weeks back in training. But we got two goals away from home so that is very positive.
“It was a good start to the game for us; it was just a pity we didn’t go on to win the game. But the two away goals mean it was an okay result in the end.”
Carew hailed skipper Laursen for his own effort on target which looked to have given Villa the win, saying: “I was pleased for Martin to get a goal and it would have been even better if it had been the winning goal but returning to his home country it was very important for him to do well.
“We will work hard to prepare for the second leg now. It’s a game we should win and I’m sure we will do what is necessary at Villa Park with our fans backing us.
“To reach the Uefa Cup is a big prize and we need to complete the task next week. It is a very big game and we will be ready.”