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By ESPN Staff
Jul 9, 2008

Villa agree deal for Chelsea midfielder Sidwell

Aston Villa have agreed to sign Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell - Martin O'Neill's first capture of what is expected to be a hectic second half of the summer.

The midlands club have settled on what is believed to be a fee of around £5 million for the former Reading player, subject to him passing a medical.

If that goes to plan, Sidwell will then fly out to link up with Villa's pre-season tour of Switzerland.

Sidwell has been one of manager O'Neill's main transfer targets since the season ended.

A club statement said: 'Aston Villa have agreed to sign Chelsea's former England Under-21 midfielder Steve Sidwell, subject to a medical.'

The 25-year-old played a major part in Reading establishing themselves in the Premier League two years ago before moving to Stamford Bridge last summer.

The former Arsenal trainee, who has also attracted interest from Manchester City, had limited opportunities under Jose Mourinho and then Avram Grant as Chelsea narrowly missed out on Premier League and Champions League glory.

His arrival will offset some of the disappointment surrounding the club over the expected departure of Gareth Barry to Liverpool.

Sidwell was part of the Arsenal side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2000 and 2001 and had loan spells with Brentford and Brighton.

He was unable to force his way into the first team with the Gunners and moved to Reading in January 2003 on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

Sidwell played a big role in Reading gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time two years ago.

But he rejected a new contract that summer and left the Royals on a free transfer to move to Chelsea in 2007.

The England Under-21 player struggled to hold down a regular spot after claiming he had not gone to Stamford Bridge 'to make up the numbers'.

Now the England Under-21 player will be looking to rebuild his career under O'Neill.

The Northern Irishman has a number of other potential targets in the pipeline, namely Paul Robinson, James Milner and David Bentley.

He is aware of the need to bolster what was the smallest squad in the Premier League last season having already lost the services of Olof Mellberg, Patrik Berger and Thomas Sorensen.

And midfielder and skipper Barry is certain to leave once Liverpool match O'Neill's valuation of around £18 million.

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