By Alex McLeish

14th Jan, 2022 | 4:30pm

Pundit cites Declan Rice as £40m Aston Villa transfer plot reported by journalist

Alex McLeish has suggested Steven Gerrard could “unleash” John McGinn by signing Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma for Aston Villa.

The former Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted a top-class defensive midfielder would allow other players to thrive at Villa Park.

As reported by the Telegraph’s Sam Wallace on Wednesday evening (12 January), Villa are plotting a move to sign Bissouma after sealing deals for Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne.

The newspaper claim Brighton value the 25-year-old at around the £40million mark.

McLeish suggested a central enforcer could get the best out of the rest of the Villa squad.

He pointed to West Ham’s Declan Rice as a prime example of the importance of ball-winning midfielders.

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“Stevie must have a strategy in mind when he’s thinking about a holding midfielder to unleash others,” McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.

“It would give them more freedom, guys like John McGinn. He’s been a sensation but it possibly gives some of these guys even more time to go forward.

“They know they have a stopgap at the back. They have the what-if guy, if things break down. He’d be a very, very high-quality what-if guy.

“You look at the likes of Declan Rice. He has proven to be a fantastic player in the Premier League.”

Douglas Luiz is Villa’s only defensive midfield option available at present after they lost Marvelous Nakamba to injury

Bissouma has made 100 appearances and scored two goals in the Premier League to date.

He also has 18 cap under his belt for Mali.

In other news, Aston Villa have had a bid accepted for another player after Digne and Coutinho.