Steven Gerrard has opened talks for midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur after the star’s latest impressive midfield display for Juventus in front of Aston Villa scouts.
Uruguay international Bentancur,24, made his 13th League start of the season playing 89 minutes of Juve’s 0-0 draw at third-placed AC Milan.
He recorded 78 touches, one key pass, 93.8% pass accuracy, 100% dribbles completed, four interceptions, five tackles and won eight duels.
The star’s display helped ensure Juventus were able to shut out the second highest scorers in Serie A.
The draw keeps Massimiliano Allegri’s fifth place side firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification as champions Inter Milan are flying at the top.
But Villa boss Gerrard is still trying to persuade Allegri to part with the star after already bringing in Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne, Robin Olsen and young defender Kerr Smith this month.
Bentancur, who has won three Serie A titles with the Italian giants, is under contract until 2024 in Turin and has made 26 appearances in total this term.
Villa are now focusing on him after being deterred by a prohibitive price for Brighton ’s Yves Bissouma, who is out of contract next summer.
But discussions have been complicated by a sell-on clause inserted in the £8m deal which saw Bentancur join Juventus from Boca Juniors in 2017.
The Argentine club are thought to be entitled to around 33 per cent of any profit from a sale.
Bentancur has now travelled to South America ahead of Uruguay’s World Cup qualifiers later this week but that will not hinder the completion of any transfer.
Gerrard’s team do not return to action until they host Leeds on February 9.
They have started life promisingly under him with 16 points from his 10 games in charge since he took over in November.
As well as being active in the transfer window, Gerrard has also added
Dr Martin Littlewood to his backroom staff recently.
Littlewood is Villa’s new first-team psychologist, who arrived in December having worked previously with Gerrard during his title-winning spell at Rangers where his backroom staff also included Michael Beale, Tom Culshaw and Gary McAllister.
Gerrard’s assistant Beale last year gave an insight into Littlewood’s role while at Rangers: “Martin works with us as a psychologist.
“We did a lot of talking about the messages that we send in training, and the message that the manager sends in his meetings and the coaches in the unit meetings about staying on task and not looking too far ahead and at the league table.”