Villa closing in on Makoun deal

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Aston Villa are close to completing the signing of Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun after manager Gerald Houllier held "positive talks" with his former club.

Villa have already agreed a deal believed to be worth an initial £5million rising to £6.5million. Houllier flew to France to hold talks with the player he attempted unsuccessfully to sign from Lille when in charge of Lyon and now the ex-Liverpool boss is on the verge of signing the 27-year-old Makoun.

"We have had some very positive talks with the club (Lyon), with the player and his representative," said Houllier. "I hope to be able to say more soon but for the moment nothing is signed. It is going on positively and he (Makoun) should have a medical in the next day or so."

Any transfer would not be concluded in time for Makoun to be involved in Sunday's derby at Birmingham, but the Cameroon international will add some much-needed midfield depth to the Villa squad.

"He can play as a holding midfielder or go box to box and it is an area where we don't have a lot of experience," Houllier continued.

"The two that are playing at the moment, (Nigel) Reo-Coker and (Stiliyan) Petrov, we saw what happened when the two were injured at the same time. It is an area where we need more players and we are trying to sign quality players.

"When he was at Lille, I tried to sign him (for Lyon) and they signed him just after I left."

Houllier has ruled out any audacious attempt to sign Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who scored for France against England at Wembley in November.

He said: "I don't think Benzema will come to Villa. Jose (Mourinho) said he is missing strikers so how can he get rid of one of the only ones he has available at the moment?

"I think he is trying to sign a new striker. I didn't even dare to get in touch with Jose because I know the situation he is in at the moment!"

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