By Harry Sykes
Steve Bruce is ready to turn his attention to signing Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom as Aston Villa’s January transfer blitz continues, according to a report.
The Mail claim the Midlands giants will continue their squad revamp by pushing to sign Akpom on loan for the rest of the season.
Bruce’s desire to increase his forward options comes after £12million attacker Ross McCormack was banished to train with the Under-23s for poor timekeeping and a bad attitude.
The Mail report that Villa are on the verge of three new signings to add to the two already made this month in Henri Lansbury and on-loan Sam Johnstone.
Iceland international midfielder Birkir Bjarnason is expected to undergo a Villa medical on Wednesday, while deals are also close for Barnsley duo Conor Hourihane and James Bree, with a leaked image of the right-back on Tuesday showing him posing in a club kit at Bodymoor Heath.
Villa have been strongly linked this month with a move for Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes, who is on the fringes of the Premier League side, but have been put off by the asking price.
It has been reported this month that Arsenal are willing to allow Akpom to go out on loan, which is good news for Villa as they aim to add to their goalscoring options in the coming days.
Bruce knows the England Under-21 international well after signing him on a season-long loan when he was manager at Hull in the last campaign, where he scored seven goals in 41 matches to help the side clinch promotion.
Arsene Wenger declined the opportunity to send him out on loan six months ago, hoping that his young star could have an impact in the first-team squad, only for an injury to throw a spanner into the works.
But the England Under-21 international has managed just one senior appearance for the Gunners this season, and Bruce could be prepared to welcome Akpom back into his care for the remainder of the campaign.
Villa have lacked firepower this season, with their 27 Championship fixtures accruing a meagre 28 goals and Jonathan Kodjia their only regular supplier of goals.
Football Insider verdict
Arsenal may have had plans for Akpom six months ago, but it is clear that it is not the case right now. Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud are Arsene Wenger’s first choice front men, while Danny Welbeck has also returned from his long-term injury to provide proven cover. Akpom will not get a look-in at Emirates Stadium between now and the end of the season, and a move to Villa would be ideal to kickstart his season. He may not be familiar with the environment at Villa Park, but he is well known by the manager and Bruce is the perfect man to help continue his development. Akpom would get his fair share of opportunities given the misfiring current options, and can be a major asset in the Championship.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club are set to face competition for the signature of this 22-year-old defender.