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17th Jul, 2016 | 2:29pm

Report: Aston Villa target 27-goal striker, Di Matteo keen to activate £24m release clause

By Amir Mir

Aston Villa’s search for a new striker continues as they are keeping close tabs on Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani, according to a report.

Sky Italy journalist Gianluca Di Marzio has claimed on his website that the 28-year-old is attracting interest from the Midlands club and Premier League side Everton after his impressive performances last season.

The Algerian international scored 27 goals in 33 appearances in the Portugese top flight last season as his side narrowly lost out on the league title by two points to Benfica.

Slimani is under contract with the Portuguese giants until 2020, but it is claimed by Portuguese publication Noticias ao Minuto that the striker has a release clause of £24million in that agreement.

The highly rated forward joined the Portuguese side from Algeria in 2013 and he has since notched up 56-goals in three seasons.

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It is reported that Premier League champions Leicester and Italian side Napoli are also keeping a close eye on his progress.

Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo is looking for firepower up front after relegation last term which saw the club find the net on only 27 occasions.

The club’s top scorer Jordan Ayew scored seven goals, but he is looking for a move away from Villa Park as Di Matteo and owner Tony Xia prioritise the forward position as one to fill for this transfer window.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, the clubs summer flop is in talks with joining French giants as discussions about his departure have already begun.