Championship rivals will not sell midfielder to Aston Villa, 6 months left on contract - report
By Matt Farr
Aston Villa will not be signing Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens this month – according to a report.
The Birmingham Mail claim that Villa have been long-term admirers of the player but that Championship leaders Brighton have no interest in parting ways with Stephens.
The 27-year-old is out of contract at the Amex Stadium this summer, and it is reported that Villa are still interested, but Brighton would not be willing to let him leave to join a divisional rival, even if it means losing him on a free in six months’ time.
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce had been looking to strengthen his midfield options in January, having been presented with his opportunity to put his own stamp on the squad he inherited from former boss Roberto Di Matteo in October.
Bruce has already made an approach for Nottingham Forest star Henri Lansbury, a deal worth £3 million according to the Daily Mail, and remains confident in his pursuit of the former Arsenal man.
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However, any remaining interest in Brighton’s Dale Stephens appears to be over. The club attempted to sign him back in 2012, but opted instead for Ashley Westwood, who has gone on to make 134 appearances at Villa Park in all competitions.
Stephens is part of Chris Hughton’s Brighton side that find themselves two points clear at the top of the Championship. The midfielder has appeared in 20 of Brighton’s 24 league games this season, contributing two goals and two assists.
Aston Villa are currently 12th in the Championship, seven points behind the play-offs, and 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Football Insider verdict
Aston Villa made one attempt to sign Stephens before and they’re not going to have any luck in this transfer window, if he was a legitimate target. Brighton understandably don’t want to sell him to a league rival, but there are plenty of other options available to Villa. Stephens would have been a useful asset, but main target Henri Lansbury is just as good, if not even better. While the Brighton-man had been a previous target for Aston Villa, there was little to suggest that he was on new boss Steve Bruce’s radar. Although any such speculation has been ended abruptly.
In other Aston Villa news, Bruce is expected to make two changes to his side for their FA Cup clash with Tottenham on Sunday.