Aston Villa have made Isaac Hayden their priority for the final few days of the January transfer window, according to The Birmingham Mail.
Newcastle United midfielder Hayden wants to leave (as per The Northern Echo) with Aston Villa ready to offer him an escape route.
But Rafa Benitez has been reluctant to let Hayden depart, given that he has a threadbare squad, there is a lack of investment and the Magpies are in a relegation scrap.
With Jonjo Shelvey also out injured, Benitez has held Hayden ransom by blocking his exit path.
But according to The Telegraph, Newcastle are close to completing the signing of Andreas Samaris from Benfica.
Samaris plays as a defensive midfielder, much like Hayden, and his arrival at St James’ Park could satisfy Benitez enough to let Hayden leave.
Hayden would be a shrewd capture for Aston Villa, who have struggled for legs in midfield.
The 23-year-old has won promotion with Hull City and Newcastle, racking up over 50 Championship appearances in the process.
The ex-Arsenal starlet can also fill in at centre-back, which could be helpful for Aston Villa’s leaky defence.
Dean Smith will be hoping to put together a run and launch a late bid for the play-offs. If Hayden comes in, Aston Villa’s chances of making the top six are strengthened.
Samaris’ move to Newcastle could make this move possible for Aston Villa before the Thursday deadline.