It has emerged that Martin O’Neill is ready to launch a bid to sign Wigan forward Emile Heskey when the January transfer window opens. The Aston Villa boss could face competition from Heskey’s former club though as Liverpool have previously expressed an interest in the player.
With reference to Villa’s interest, O’Neill has confirmed that the club are monitoring Heskey’s progress ahead of a potential move. The Wigan man is out of contract next summer so could be sold for a cut-price deal in January.
It certainly seems unlikely that Heskey will sign a new deal at the JJB, therefore it is up to Wigan boss Steve Bruce whether to make some money on him next month – around £3m – or allow him to leave for free in the summer.
Should they decide to cash in on the England striker, Villa will definitely look to sign him because their normal ‘big man’, John Carew, is set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to injury. O’Neill admits that he and his transfer team will be ‘looking to do something in January’.
It may not be as straight forward as this for the Northern Irishman though as Premier League leaders Liverpool may also make a move for the in demand striker. Back in October, several reports suggested that Rafa Benitez was keen on making Heskey a Liverpool player again.
Reacting to this speculation, the player himself admitted that he was ‘keeping his options open’ and that a return to Anfield would be ‘lovely.’ This Liverpool interest came after Heskey impressed while on international duty with England, but overall, he has only scored two goals all season.
With this in mind, why do two top-five Premier League clubs want to sign him? Well, as we know, Heskey has never been a prolific goalscorer. Instead he has used his presence and his strength to bring more creative players into the game. We saw that with him and Wayne Rooney for England.
Benitez and O’Neill will be hoping that Heskey can have the same sort of partnership with Gabriel Agbonlahor or Robbie Keane for example. That’s why they want to sign him. It’s another option up front for them and one that could help them score a few more goals.
Heskey can only go to one of these teams though and if I was to place a football bet on it, I would expect him to be wearing Villa colours come January. Liverpool’s interest has died somewhat in recent weeks and with Fernando Torres out, they need someone who can score goals – not just set them up.
The 30-year-old could of course stay at Wigan, but I’d urge him to make the move to Aston Villa – he would be playing in Europe and would really suit their style of play in my opinion.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting