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May 31, 2012

Villa close on Lambert move

Paul Lambert appears set to become the new Aston Villa manager after he tendered his resignation at Norwich, although it was rejected by the East Anglian club.

• Given would welcome Lambert at Villa

Despite Norwich's attempts to keep their man, Villa owner Randy Lerner and the chief executive, Paul Faulkner, are expected to hold talks over compensation, with Lambert's appointment anticipated to be announced in the next few days.

A statement on the Norwich website read: "The Club regrets to confirm that Paul Lambert has offered his resignation from his position as Norwich City Manager. We have fought hard to keep Paul at Norwich City and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions with another club are taking place.

"However, whatever happens, we want to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the Club over the last three fantastic seasons. When Paul joined us in August 2009 we were in 66th position in the English football pyramid and the Club was on the brink of financial meltdown.

"Today we are a Premier League football club, on a financially sound footing and with a stadium full to capacity. Discussions with Paul throughout the last few days have been professional and amicable. Paul has already earned his place in Norwich City Football Club history and, no matter what happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow Road.

"Meanwhile, contrary to some media speculation, the Club does not need to sell any players and the finances are in place to substantially strengthen the excellent squad which helped us finish in 12th position in the Premier League last season. Rest assured that everyone behind the scenes at Carrow Road remains absolutely focused on continuing to help the Club progress."

Shortly after the final game of the season - in which Lambert's Canaries beat Villa 2-0 - the chief executive, David McNally, vowed to do everything possible to keep the manager.

Lambert, 42, has gone to the top of Villa's list after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned the job down and Roberto Martinez pledged his future to Wigan. Speculation has linked him with a move to Villa Park since Alex McLeish was sacked by Lerner soon after the club's Carrow Road defeat.

That conjecture intensified when the Sun reported that Lambert had resigned from the Canaries after a row with the board. The paper claimed he walked out after being refused permission to talk to Villa.

He had consistently given terse responses to recent questions about his future at Norwich. Speaking after a Carrow Road testimonial for defender Adam Drury last week, he said: "I am delighted I am at Norwich if that is what you are asking. I have never said I wanted away. Not a thing have I said, and people jump to conclusions."

At the end of last season, McNally said: "We would not welcome any inquiry for our football manager or any of the club's football players. We'll do everything we can and fight this as hard as we've ever fought."

Lambert has enjoyed huge success at Norwich, leading the Canaries into the Premier League thanks to back-to-back promotions.

He took over with the club at its lowest ebb for decades following a 7-1 home defeat to the Colchester side of which he was manager on the opening day of the League One season.

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