By Will Butcher
Senegal international Idrissa Gueye is in talks with French giants Marseille after the £7.1million release clause was triggered in his Aston Villa contract.
The former Lille central midfielder is keen on returning to France after a dismal campaign in England which saw Villa get relegated in his debut season.
Sky Sports have reported that Marseille are in talks with the 26-year-old, whose position in the Villa midfield appears to have been filled by £5million signing on Sunday of Aaron Tshibola from Championship rivals Reading.
Gueye, who moved to France from Senegal side Diambars FC, has three years remaining on his Villa Park contract but is ready to ditch that to return to the top flight of France.
He made 38 appearances for Villa last season, scoring just once against Wycombe in the FA Cup.
Villa’s number eight made 176 Lille appearances before signing for Villa last summer during ex-manager Tim Sherwood’s revamp in a £7.5million deal.
New manager Roberto Di Matteo has also added former Manchester United goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick to his side, along with Tshibola.
Marseille had a hugely disappointing campaign last season, as they finished just nine points above the relegation places.
Manager Franck Passi is looking to avoid being dragged into the bottom half of the table this season, and has already made five signings including Newcastle’s Remy Cabella in a £6.8million switch.
In other Aston Villa news, Di Matteo is looking to bring in this Championship striker after he scored 20 goals last season.