It appears Aston will be approaching Villa Rangers in the next 48 hours for permission to speak to Steven Gerrard, after the former Liverpool man was identified as their number 1 choice to succeed Dean Smith as manager.
Gerrard, who is under contract with Ibrox until 2024, is reportedly interested in a possible return to England if Rangers agree to talks. A compensation package of around £2million is unlikely to be a stumbling block for Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.
The 41-year-old has long been seen as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Anfield and, somewhat coincidentally, their current contracts expire in the same year. However, Villa’s ambitions could be an attraction for Gerrard as the Midlands club look to build on last season’s 11th place finish.
Gerrard was focused on securing successive Premiership titles with Rangers and wanted to emphasize that he is happy in Scotland as he tries to fend off the constant speculation about a return to the Premier League. Smith was sacked as Villa head coach on Sunday after five consecutive league defeats.
Villa sees Gerrard as a manager with the profile and appetite to bring European football back to the club and wants to complete the move well before their next Premier League game against Brighton, after the international break. Gerrard is also well known by the Villa director and former Anfield director, Christian Purslow, while Gerrard’s current assistant manager Gary McAllister worked at the Birmingham club during the period Gérard Houllier was in charge.
Belgian coach Roberto Martínez is also on Villa’s list if a transfer for Gerrard fails, but confidence is growing in the Midlands that a deal can be struck. Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand has excluded himself. The 49-year-old is highly regarded by Villa sporting director Johan Lange, and was immediately linked after Smith’s resignation on Sunday.
Hjulmand said: “I’m happy to be the Danish national team manager and I’m not going anywhere now. I think I’m just getting started and trying to discover what this team can do.
“I love the job. For me it’s a big challenge to see how far we can go. How well we can play because we have a very exciting team with great potential.”