Darius Vassell is on the brink of ending his long association with Aston Villa after manager-David O'Leary agreed to sell the England striker to Manchester City.

The 25-year-old could leave the Midlands in the next 24-hours with a fee of around #2 million likely to pass between the two clubs, leaving O'Leary with just three front-line strikers and less than three weeks to go until the new season.


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The Birmingham Post understands that Vassell has flown back from Villa's preseason tour in Sweden to undergo a medical at Manchester City today and, if that goes smoothly, he could be a member of Stuart Pearce's side by tomorrow.

Vassell's departure would increase the O'Leary's desperation to sign another forward with Liverpool's Milan Baros the most likely candidate.

Although the Czech Republic-attacker is known to be surplus to requirements at Anfield it would still take a large portion of Villa's #6 million transfer kitty to bring him to the Midlands.

But that shouldn't be a problem because having missed out on James Beattie in January and Craig Bellamy earlier this month O'Leary has kept his powder dry.

If he could tempt Baros to Villa he would be signing a man who ended last season as a European champion with his club and the previous one scintillating the continent with his goal-scoring exploits for his country in Euro 2004.

Vassell's exit brings the curtain down on a miserable passage of events that began with his decisive penalty miss in England's European Championships shoot-out with Portugal last summer.

Once back in a Villa shirt at the start of last season he failed to rediscover his best form - scoring just one Premiership goal in ten games - before breaking his ankle against Fulham.

That sidelined him for four months and when the Birmingham-born attacker returned he came back into a side that was low on confidence and entrenched in a disappointing run of results.

He was unable to inspire Villa to a European place as they finished tenth in the league with just one goal in 11 appearances from a man who had once been their talisman.

Meanwhile, if O'Leary cannot persuade Baros, who is also attracting interest from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, his attention to Genoa's South American forward Diego Milito who is available for around #4 million.

According to operations director, Steve Stride, the manager still has the money earmarked for Beattie and Bellamy at his disposal.

"The money is still there for the manager," said Stride.