Villa weighing up bid for Porto's Ba
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has been linked with a move for FC Porto's Abdoulaye Ba as he looks to strengthen his defensive options in the January transfer window.
Lambert is preparing for a meeting with owner Randy Lerner in the next couple of weeks, with the American due to fly to Birmingham for a de-brief on the season so far.
The Scot expects to discover what kind of budget, if any, will be available for adding to his squad at the turn of the year as he looks to find a solution to Villa's worst start to a season for over 40 years.
He has already stated he still has the backing of Lerner and believes the former owner of NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns will continue his financial support, which could provide room to bring in another specialist central defender.
Lambert has been without veteran Ireland international Richard Dunne all season and the former skipper is not expected to return to action until the end of December, at the earliest, because of a groin injury.
There remain doubts about Dunne's long-term future at Villa Park and with Lambert keen to continue building for the future, Porto's Ba appears to fit the bill.
The Senegal international has been on Premier League radars for some time, with West Ham first expressing an interest in him ten months ago and again this summer.
Hammers manager Sam Allardyce did not follow up his interest in the 21-year-old in July because of anticipated work permit problems.
Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City also made tentative enquiries in the summer for the central defender, who impressed during a loan spell with Academica last season and is available for around £3 million.
Ba is believed to be keen on a move to the Premier League and is confident he no longer has issues over being granted a work permit, having played in Senegal's last four games.
His chances of gaining a move in January have been increased by the Lions of Teranga's disqualification from the African Nations Cup in South Africa.
Senegal were thrown out of the competition following a riot which forced their qualifier against the Ivory Coast to be abandoned earlier this month.