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By ESPN Staff

Villa tracking Hamburg midfielder De Jong

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is tracking Dutch international midfielder Nigel de Jong.

His club Hamburg are keen to offload De Jong - their highest wage earner at around £40,000 a week - after a disappointing season in the Bundesliga which saw them miss out on a Champions League spot.

The 22-year-old joined Hamburg from Ajax for £700,000 18 months ago.

Hamburg sporting director Dietmar Beiersdorfer said: 'We have heard rumours of interest from Villa but at the moment there is no news.'

O'Neill is looking to strengthen in the centre of the park after selling Gavin McCann to Bolton.

He is still hoping to bring in West Ham's Nigel Reo-Coker although may have to wait until the player has returned from the European Under-21 Championships.

And O'Neill maintains an interest in Ajax's Wesley Sneijder although they face strong competition from Tottenham.