Swans ‘keen on Sylvestre move’

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

side.

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

elite.

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

refuse.

“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

stay.

“Carra is the type of player who wants to play all the time,”

Enrique said.

“You cannot say anything about a player who has played more than

700 times.

“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

me.

“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

top player.”

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

liverpoolfc.com.

“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

sessions.

“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

the manager.

“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.