By David Woods

14th Jun, 2018 | 6:39am

Exclusive: Championship rivals in talks with Aston Villa over 29-y/o mainstay, manager a big fan

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.

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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.

In other Aston Villa news, PL giants offer Aston Villa lifeline in £30m deal for 22-year-old star

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