EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa are lining up a January move for Brentford defender Yoann Barbet, Football Insider sources understands.
Villa boss Dean Smith is ready to battle Stoke City counterpart Gary Rowett as they look to bolster their respective sides’ defensive options during the January transfer window.
A well placed source has told Football Insider that Barbet has emerged as Villa’s top winter window target and are keen to take advantage of his availability.
The 25-year-old is out of contract next summer and could leave on a free at the end of the season.
Villa and Stoke find themselves off the pace in the battle for promotion from the Championship and Smith and Rowett know they need to strengthen their squads in the New Year.
Villa have been searching for a new defender since the summer after failing to replace John Terry and Smith feels Barbet’s versatility in that he can play at centre-back and left-back would make him a valuable addition to his squad.
Brentford are reluctant to lose Barbet, but could be forced to cash-in on him in January rather than risk allowing him to run down his contract and leave for nothing next summer.
Smith is a big admirer of the player having worked with the Frenchman during his time in charge of Brentford and he is keen to be reunited with him at Villa Park.
Barbet joined Brentford in the summer of 2015 from French second tier club Chamois Niortais, and he has established himself as one of the best defenders in the Championship.
In other Aston Villa news, the club have made a move to sign a Sheffield Wednesday ace as talks over a deal have begun.