Aston Villa are close to completing the signing of Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun after manager Gerald Houllier held "positive talks" with his former club.
Villa have already agreed a deal believed to be worth an initial £5million rising to £6.5million. Houllier flew to France to hold talks with the player he attempted unsuccessfully to sign from Lille when in charge of Lyon.
Now the ex-Liverpool boss is on the verge of signing the 27-year-old Makoun, who will have a deal in the next 24 hours. But any transfer would not be concluded in time for Makoun to be involved in Sunday's derby at Birmingham.
Houllier said: "We have had some very positive talks with the club (Lyon), with the player and his representative. I hope to be able to say more soon but for the moment nothing is signed. But it is going on positively and he (Makoun) should have a medical in the next day or so. He can play as a holding midfielder or go box to box and it is an area where we don't have a lot of experience.
"The two that are playing at the moment, (Nigel) Reo-Coker and (Stiliyan) Petrov, we saw what happened when the two were injured at the same time.
"It is an area where we need more players and we are trying to sign quality players. When he was at Lille, I tried to sign him (for Lyon) and they signed him just after I left."