Just days after Aston Villa's first acquisition of this summer, it looksas if Martin O'Neill is about to get busy with the cheque book once again, bringing in a long-term target in American goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Villa announced at the weekend that the club had agreed a fee with Major League Soccer club Chivas USA for the American international, who was the subject of a £2 million bid from Villa back in January but who was prevented from making the move following problems obtaining a work permit.
The 24-year-old Illinois-born goalkeeper did spend a few days on trial with Villa but could now become apermanent fixture having played far more international friendlies and competitive games now -part of the requirements for a work permit from the Home Office.
O'Neill was last night "very hopeful" that he could secure the permit necessary to bring the keeper to Britain to replace last summer's loan goalkeeper Scott Carson who has now returned to Liverpool and former Villa number one Thomas Sorensen, who left the club at the end of last season on a free transfer.
Villa's interest in Guzan has been one of football's worst-kept recent secrets and O'Neill's goalkeeping coach, Seamus McDonagh, went to Wembley to watch Guzan make an appearance as a substitute in a friendly between the USA and England in May.
Guzan has been involved in five of the last eight internationals for his country including matches against Sweden and Barbados and it is that which makes O'Neill more confident that, on this occasion, he will gain Home Office approval for his man.
A Villa spokesman said: "Aston Villa can confirm that a fee has been agreed for Brad Guzan and he will become a Villa player subject to gaining a work permit."
Guzan will become Villa's second summer signing after Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell, who moved from Stamford Bridge for around £5million earlier this week Guzan himself admitted he was desperate to join Villa. He said: "I would love to sign for Villa. When I was there in January for a few days it was an absolutely brilliant time. Great people, great facilities and I couldn't say one bad thing about it."
O'Neill, meanwhile has also been linked with Tottenham's out-of-favour keeper Paul Robinson and Blackburn's American giant Brad Friedel. Villa currently only has one senior goalkeeper on board in Stuart Taylor, who has been the club's key man betwen the posts during the per-season tour of Switzerland.
Last night, O'Neill assured supporters there would be no let up in his transfer dealings as he strives to build a squad capable of challenging for a top four spot in the Barclays Premier League this season following the signing of Sidwell.
He said: "We have started the ball rolling and hoepfully with a bit of luck the goalkeeper will come in.
"We have a number of players we would like to bring to this club and this is what we are progressing."