No Gunners bid for Stew – Villa

The Gunners are reported to have joined Liverpool in the race to

sign Downing, who made it clear when on England duty last month

that he will not be signing a new contract with Villa. But sources

close to the Midlands club insist any possible interest has not

been firmed up so far and new manager Alex McLeish wants to keep

the former Middlesbrough player. Villa have already rejected bids

of £12million and £15million from Liverpool for Downing,

who has two years remaining of his current contract. If Villa find

they are eventually left with no option but to sell Downing, then

they will hold out for their original valuation of £19million.

Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia has been linked with Villa as a possible

replacement should Downing leave. McLeish came close to signing

N’Zogbia last summer when in charge of Birmingham before a change

in his wage demands ended hopes of the deal being completed. Villa

are also monitoring West Ham midfielder Scott Parker, although no

bid has been made. But the club finally expect the signing of

Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given to go through at some stage

this week in a £3.5million deal.