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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Santini sacking puts Berson deal in serious doubt

Aston Villa midfielder Mathieu Berson's proposed £1million move to Auxerre could be in doubt and in the process scupper their hopes of signing James Milner from Newcastle.

David O'Leary needs to sell Berson to finance a possible £3million capture of Milner who spent last season on loan with Villa.

But the sacking of Auxerre manager Jacques Santini has meant the deal is back in the balance.

Berson's agent Olivier Jouanneaux said: 'We do not know what will happen now with Auxerre. It depends on the new manager and what he wants to do because Mathieu is on a good salary.

'We know Aston Villa would like to sell him but we have had no news from them about that.

'For the moment we do not know what is happening. Nobody is telling us anything. It is not an easy situation. But if he has to go back to Aston Villa, then he will.'

Villa chairman Doug Ellis has hinted he is unlikely to make funds available to sign Leeds midfielder Eirik Bakke.

The Norwegian international spent the first half of last season on loan at Villa before returning to Elland Road in the January transfer window.

O'Leary had intimated he could reactivate his interest in Bakke this summer but Ellis said: 'He can't even get into the Leeds side on a regular basis. That's my answer to that.'