By Harry Sykes
Aston Villa are preparing an £11million bid for Fulham striker Ross McCormack, according to a report.
The Sun claim new manager Roberto Di Matteo is keen to land the free-scoring attacker and will offer significant money to prise the Scotland international from Craven Cottage.
It is said that Fulham may be willing to cash in on McCormack and even accept a fee below the release clause set in his new contract.
McCormack signed a contract extension in January that tied him to the club until 2020 and reportedly increased his release clause by £2.5million to £15million.
Villa’s fellow relegated club Newcastle have also been linked with a move for McCormack after he kept up his impressive goal record at Fulham this season.
The Scotland international followed up his 17 Championship goals last season with a further 21 this campaign and it means the striker has managed to surpass the 15-goal mark in the league in each of his last three seasons.
Newcastle were thought to be hopeful a deal could be done quickly, but that now seems unlikely with Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic desperate to hold onto his top goalscorer.
Like Rafael Benitez, Di Matteo is believed to have identified McCormack as the perfect man to fire Newcastle back into the Premier League, but Jokanovic has similar plans for the striker at Fulham as he looks to build his squad around the versatile forward.
Villa secured their first signing of the summer last week when they signed Tommy Elphick from Bournemouth for around £3million.
In other Aston Villa news, Di Matteo is eyeing a move for a 23-year-old to replace one of the club’s 2015-16 flops.