By Wayne Veysey

28th Dec, 2016 | 12:22pm

Report: Aston Villa move into pole position to sign goal machine, deal could be done in days

By Harry Sykes

Aston Villa are in pole position to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes in the January window, according to a report.

The Sun claim Villa are trying to land the prolific front man and both clubs will attempt to “sort out the deal in the next few days before an early transfer as soon as the window opens”.

It is said that Middlesbrough are willing to let the striker leave next mont, but they are expecting to recoup the £12million fee they paid for him a year ago.

Villa boss Steve Bruce is targeting Rhodes to boost his side’s promotion chances following the Scotland international’s prolific form at former clubs Blackburn and Huddersfield.

Rhodes has slipped down the pecking order at Boro and could be sold to provide funds for Aitor Karanka to strengthen other areas of his squad.

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The Sun report that Bruce is prepared to let Rudy Gestede leave Villa Park in January, and could be tempted into offering the 28-year-old as part of a bid to lure Rhodes away from Middlesbrough.

However, Karanka is reluctant to meet Villa’s valuation of £7 million for Gestede, and may not be willing to negotiate a swap deal involving the Benin international.

Rhodes is a goal machine in the English lower leagues, with a record of 84 goals in 169 appearances for Blackburn and 86 goals in just 147 matches for Huddersfield.

At Middlesbrough, the Scotland international has mainly been on the fringes of the team since his January move, but has still netted six times in 24 matches.

Jonathan Kodjia is currently Aston Villa’s top goalscorer with eight goals from 22 appearances in all competitions, but Steve Bruce wants more firepower to give his side every chance of booking their place in the top-flight for next season.

Villa’s remaining forwards, Jordan Ayew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ross McCormack and Gestede, have just 10 goals between them.

Football Insider verdict:

Given Bruce’s need for a goal machine who can do what his strikers haven’t done often enough in the first half of the season, it is not surprising that he is keen to sign Rhodes. The Scot comes with a cast-iron guarantee of goals in the lower leagues and, while his Premier League credentials may be open to question, he is the real deal in the Championship and could catapult Villa back to the top flight at the first attempt.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, a Premier League club has joined the race to sign a Villa ace and a £10million striker could move to the Midlands giants in part-exchange.