Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

Alan Hutton has been buzzing over the prospect of Aston Villa signing Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson this month.

The former Villa and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has insisted his old side could do with another option in the centre of the park and that the Frenchman looks an “exciting” prospect.

BBC Sport report Villa have opened talks with Marseille over a £15million deal to sign the 26-year-old, with manager Andre Villas-Boas admitting “something could happen” in terms of a move before the end of the window.

As revealed by Football Insider, Villa gave Conor Hourihane the green light to leave on loan this month and the Republic of Ireland international has since joined Swansea City until the end of the season.

With a squad space now open to another midfielder, Hutton believes a box-to-box midfielder like Sanson is something Smith has been missing during his time in charge.

Asked if midfield was an area Villa needed to strengthen and for his verdict on the pursuit, Hutton told Football Insider: “Yeah, one area. I’ve looked at his clips and kind of followed the progress of him and he looks an exciting player.

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“Definitely that number eight midfielder that can drive forward, can sit if he wants, can score a goal, technically good so I think he gives you a different dimension.

“For me, John McGinn will always play, he gives you too much, but there’ll be certain games where you need a defensive midfielder, IE Douglas Luiz, or maybe certain games that you need a little bit more going forward where someone like Sanson would fit in, I think, fantastically well.

“They were obviously interested in him in the summer, it didn’t quite work but they have kept tabs on him and from what I can see – yes it’s only clips – he looks a really good player. It’d be good to get him in.”

Sanson has been a mainstay for Marseille this season, with a total of 19 appearances – six of which came in the Champions League – under his belt.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal a transfer has collapsed after a U-turn from an Aston Villa player.