EXCLUSIVE by Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa defender James Chester is being lined up for a move to Stoke, Football Insider sources understand.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that Stoke have made enquiries to Villa about a deal for Chester as they look to build a side capable of winning promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking next season.
Villa are reluctant to lose such a key performer as Chester this summer, but they know their hands are tied if someone makes a big offer for the defender, and talks are ongoing with their Championship rivals.
New Stoke boss Gary Rowett is understood to be a big fan of former Manchester United and Hull defender Chester and wants to pair him with Ryan Shawcross at the bet 365 Stadium next season in a new-look backline
Chester was one of Villa’s standout performers last season as the Wales international helped them reach the Championship play-off final only to lose Fulham at Wembley last month.
The 29-year-old, who joined Villa from West Bromwich Albion in 2016 for just over £8million, was an ever-present for Villa in the Championship last season playing every minute of every game and he captained the side on several occasions when John Terry was missing.
Villa are facing a fight to keep hold of their best players this summer in the wake of their much-publicised financial problems and their rivals are ready to snare their best players.
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