Sky Sports is now reporting that Makoun "is deciding whether he wants to join Aston Villa" and while it is not stated, the tone seems to imply that the fee has been agreed upon by both clubs. Lyon posted this on their website this afternoon and because I am an embarrassment to my people and its heritage I have once again used Google Translate to provide this excerpt:
The progress of such discussions remain subject to the agreement of the player and its various boards, which is still not formalized.
I still expect this to happen, but I'm on pins and needles. Makoun is surplus to requirements at Lyon and has an expressed desire to play in the Premier League. With each day that passes the opportunity that a club in a much better position than Villa might require his services.
Please, please, please get this done.
This is by far the closest we have gotten to confirmation that Jean Makoun is Aston Villa bound, and while the article does not state that a contract has been agreed upon it does sound very much like this will be happening. A Google Translate assisted excerpt:
Jean Makoun should commit soon with Aston Villa, perhaps as early as Wednesday evening. The Birmingham club, led by Gérard Houllier, had reached an agreement with Olympique Lyonnais in the form of a transfer of 6 million euros, together with a bonus of 3 million euros related to the performance of Villa.
Based on these details the transfer fee for Makoun will range between £5M and £7.5M with the figure almost certain to be closer to the latter on the assumption that Villa escape relegation (which, unless you believe that Gerard Houllier is in fact senile and/or hell bent on turning Aston Villa Football Club into a pile of burning rubble, is by far the more likely outcome.) Doing business with Lyon is often quite the risky proposition, but in this case Villa look to have come out with quite a good deal on their hands do to Makoun's having fallen out of favor at his current club.
Makoun fills a huge position of need for Villa; the hard-tackling defensive mid offers a much-lacking shield for the central defense and his presence will allow the playmaking and attacking mids to play in their preferred advanced position. We're all crying out for help at striker and I think that we're still likely to see one brought in, but it is important to keep in mind how much each piece of the team affects the others. Makoun might not score a lot of goals (though he does have a fairly potent shot from long-range) but his presence in the defensive midfield will allow his partner in the center (be it Bannan, Petrov or Nigel Reo-Coker) to concentrate more effectively on their strengths, which in turn will lead to better service to the strikers and the wings. The full backs can press ahead more confidently, allowing Downing and Albrighton to cut inside and create havoc in the box. Most importantly, Villa can devote full resources to the attack with lessened concern of conceding and Makoun's presence should make holding on in late-game situations a less nerve-wracking experience.
To put it succinctly, is Jean Makoun comes to Aston Villa it would be a tremendous boost to the club. He is a world-class player and though his position is not the most glamorous his addition is likely to make a huge impact on the club. That he is only 27 and comes at a max transfer fee of £7.5M makes this look even better. There's still a ways to go, but those of us that have urged patience with Houllier did so for largely this reason. He is a man with an idea of how he would like his squad to look and the contacts and influence to make it happen. As far as January transfer signings go, this is about as good as they are likely to get for a club like Aston Villa.
Oh, and so far as our cross-town friends Birmingham City are concerned? Their big news on the day is that they have managed to sign David Bentley on loan from Tottenham Hotspur for the remainder of the season. They might have held us to a draw at home and beaten us in the League Cup, but for today at least I'd say we came out well on top.