French midfielder Yacouba Sylla has admitted he jumped at the
chance to join Aston Villa in January from Clermont.
Sylla, 22, was brought in by Villa boss Paul Lambert during the
winter transfer window in a ?2million deal from the French Ligue 2
The tough-tackling defensive midfielder has already made nine
appearances for Villa, helping them climb out of the relegation
zone and up to 13th in the Premier League table.
The switch in January came out of the blue for the France
Under-21 international, who was hoping to join a Ligue 1 club in
the summer, only to be offered the chance to shine with England’s
Sylla told France Football: “When the Premier League opportunity
came, I immediately said yes.
“I was absolutely not prepared for it. It was impossible to
“I was surprised they came and got me at Clermont.”
The veteran centre-back has just two matches remaining of his
16-year professional career before he bows out, fittingly at
Anfield, against QPR on May 19.
Liverpool are planning a tribute to the long-serving
35-year-old, who has racked up 735 appearances, at that match.
Details are expected to be revealed later this week but it is
likely one way of recognising the service to his only professional
club will be with a mosaic on the Kop, as they did for Sami
Hyypia’s final match in 2009.
Carragher’s departure has led to plenty of speculation about who
will be brought in as a replacement, with Swansea’s Ashley Williams
and Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld strongly linked, but Enrique insists
the answer lies within – providing Skrtel can be persuaded to
“Carra is the type of player who wants to play all the time,”
“You cannot say anything about a player who has played more than
“And I know it has been a difficult year for Skrtel because he
has not been playing as much but last year he was the best
centre-back and this year he is the worst.
“But I train with Martin every day and he is a top centre-back.
For me Danny (Agger) and Martin are the best centre-back
partnership in the Premier League.
“You can have one year good, one year bad. It happened to
“The players who play in the Premier League are there because
they have quality and confidence.
“It is all about confidence. Martin is an incredible lad and a
One player not short of confidence at the moment is midfielder
Philippe Coutinho, who has picked up his second succesive player of
the month award since arriving in January.
The 20-year-old had his best game for the club in the 6-0
demolition of Newcastle just over a week ago but the Brazilian
insists there is a lot more to come from him.
“Taking into account the voting is done by the supporters, that
gives me more confidence on the pitch,” he told
“I have to thank my team-mates and the supporters for their
support and I hope to contribute with my performances.
“I have been working very hard to be able to adapt very quickly
and I think everything is working out very well.
“I thank God and my team-mates for making me feel so welcome and
for helping me a lot on the pitch.
“I have to improve a lot and learn much more in our training
“I like to play football, I like to enjoy myself while playing.
I play in any position, I have no preference but it all depends on
“My duty is to do what he asks from me.”
Swansea expressed an interest in Sylvestre last summer, but
Blackpool rebuffed their efforts to sign the playmaker.
Sylvestre is out of contract this summer at Bloomfield Road and
he has failed to agree a new deal at the club.
The news has alerted a host of clubs to Sylvestre’s availability
on a free transfer, with the likes of Fulham and Crystal Palace
credited with an interest in the 29-year-old in the past.
Swansea boss Michael Laudrup is thought to be a big admirer of
Sylvestre and is keen to bring him to the Liberty Stadium to
bolster his squad as the club prepare for the extra demands of
playing in Europe next term.
Sylvestre has been at Bloomfield Road since 2010, having played
for Barcelona earlier in his career and also spent time at Sparta
Prague and Mlada Boleslav.