By Wayne Veysey

30th Dec, 2016 | 6:00am

Aston Villa close to agreeing striker-plus-£3.5m-cash swap deal - report

By Harry Sykes

Aston Villa are close to the landmark signing of Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes in the January window, according to a report.

The Times claim the Championship outfit are on the brink of agreeing a “swap deal” with Boro in which Rudy Gestede would move to the Riverside Stadium and Rhodes would head the other way.

It is said that it would be a player-plus-cash deal in which Villa would pay the Premier League club £3.5million.

Rhodes, who joined Boro for £12million from Blackburn in January of this year, is clearly rated as the more expensive of the two front men.

The Scotland international is on the fringes of Aitor Karanka’s team and the manager has said he can leave if Boro receive an offer than matches their valuation.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

The Times suggest a deal has now been agreed with Villa, who is targeting Rhodes to boost his side’s promotion chances following the player’s goalscoring exploits at former clubs Blackburn and Huddersfield.

It has been widely reported in recent days that Bruce could be prepared to let Gestede leave Villa Park in January.

The target man was a second half substitute in Villa’s 1-1 draw against Leeds in the Championship on Thursday night, coming off the bench late on as a replacement for Jordan Ayew.

Benin international Gestede had an impact as he helped to win the penalty that was emphatically converted in the closing minutes by Jonathan Kodjia.

Rhodes is a goal machine in the English lower leagues, with a record of 84 goals in 169 appearances for Blackburn and 86 goals in just 147 matches for Huddersfield.

At Middlesbrough, the Scotland international has mainly been on the fringes of the team since his January move, but has still netted six times in 24 matches.

Kodjia is currently Aston Villa’s top goalscorer with nine goals from 23 appearances in all competitions, but Bruce wants more firepower to give his side every chance of booking their place in the top-flight for next season.

Villa’s remaining forwards, Jordan Ayew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ross McCormack and Gestede have just 10 goals between them.

Football Insider verdict:

Given Bruce’s need for a goal machine who can do what his strikers haven’t done often enough in the first half of the season, it is not surprising that he is keen to sign Rhodes. The Scot comes with a cast-iron guarantee of goals in the lower leagues and, while his Premier League credentials may be open to question, he is the real deal in the Championship and could catapult Villa back to the top flight at the first attempt.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, a Premier League club has joined the race to sign a Villa ace and a £10million striker could move to the Midlands giants in part-exchange.