Liverpool in top flight fight for out-of-contract 'next Vieira'

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Liverpool face stiff competition from Aston Villa and Chelsea in the race to sign French starlet Gueida Fofana.

The 19-year-old Le Havre midfielder is set to leave the Ligue 1 outfit with his contract expiring in the summer, and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is one of the managers who has taken an interest in the player.

Reds boss Hodgson was linked with the player in the summer after his late Anfield arrival, and the appointment of Damien Comolli as the Director of Football strategy at Liverpool has done nothing to prevent the rumours of a move for the French starlet.

The Daily Mail reports that Villa are in the strongest position for the player though, with Gerard Houllier reportedly in discussions with Les Ciel et Marine as a potential bargain January deal is attempted to be struck between the two parties.

Liverpool were thought to be keen on waiting until the summer, or in a best-case-scenario signing the player on a pre-contract agreement in the opening month of 2011.

Captain of the French U19 side, Fofana is seen as the starlet of a promising Les Bleus crop, and his signature would be seen as a coup for Liverpool could they prize him away from the Villains' grasp.

Hodgson is thought to have money to spend following the arrival of NESV on Merseyside, and Liverpool could also look to buy the player in a further effort to beat off Barclays Premier League competition.

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