Aston Villa are in talks to sign defensive midfielder Yacouba Sylla from Clermont Foot for £2 million, according to the BBC.

Should the deal go through, the 22-year old Frenchman will become manager Paul Lambert’s first signing in the January window.

Sylla has made 20 starts for French second division side Clermont, and was at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground yesterday.

Premier League rivals QPR and Fulham, along with German side Stuttgart and Italians Udinese were all believed to be interested in the player, who has been capped for France at under-21 level.

Defeat by relegation rivals Newcastle United in midweek saw Villa slump into the relegation zone and Paul Lambert’s side are now without a win since beating Ipswich in the third round of the FA Cup on January 5th.

Lambert has stuck with a relatively inexperienced squad up until now and has been criticised in some quarters for his team selection and decision to stand by his decision to play untested players, and following recent defeats to lower-league opposition in the FA Cup and League Cup, the pressure has been on Lambert to reverse Villa’s slump into the relegation zone following a fourth successive home defeat to the Magpies.

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This article was first posted on January 31, 2013