By Wayne Veysey

5th Dec, 2016 | 3:03pm

Report: Aston Villa lead race to sign £10m-rated ace in January, Bruce to offer striker in part-exchange

By Harry Sykes

Aston Villa are in pole position to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes in the January transfer window, according to a report.

News site HITC claim manager Steve Bruce has made the prolific front man his number one target when the window re-opens next month.

It is said that Middlesbrough are willing to listen to offers of £10million for Rhodes, who only joined the Premier League side in January of this year after extensive negotiations with his former club Blackburn.

HITC report that Bruce is so keen to land Rhodes that he is ready to sacrifice a Villa forward in part-exchange, will Ross McCormack set to be offered to Boro to sweeten the deal.

Sheffield Wednesday are also keeping close tabs on Rhodes, who has a formidable scoring record in the Championship and in League One with former clubs Blackburn and Huddersfield.

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Rhodes struck 84 times in 169 appearances for Blackburn and was even more prolific at Huddersfield, where his 86 goals came in just 147 matches.

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 22 matches.

Football Insider verdict:

£10million is a lot of money for a player who has never proved himself in the Premier League and has put the ‘bit’ into the phrase ‘bit-part player’ at Middlesbrough this season. Nevertheless, Rhodes’ track record in the Championship is mightily impressive. At that level, he is a goal machine. Bruce knows enough about the second tier to conclude that his team’s promotion hopes will falter if they don’t have someone who can put the ball in the back of the net every other game. Villa have some decent forwards, particularly in summer signing Jonathan Kodjia, but it is telling that only two players – Rudy Gestede and Kodjia himself – have scored more than two league goals this season. The pursuit of Rhodes makes abundant sense.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, this is why Bruce must be ruthless and sell this hopeless first teamer next month.