After four days, countless stories and much haggling, the deal is done: Aston Villa have signed Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Jean II Makoun. The Villa spent £6M to secure the 27-year-old's services through June 2014. The Cameroonian international will be able to take the pitch in claret and blue once he manages to secure a work permit, which could take up to two weeks. So much for a Second City Derby, eh?
(Speaking of Second City derbies, in case you hadn't heard: while Aston Villa were out landing an ace defensive midfielder so that we can politely show Nigel Reo-Coker the door, or perhaps just remind him how to play, Birmingham City spent the equivalent amount of money to buy themselves a Robbie Keane from Tottenham. It kind of reminds me of those Mastercard commercials - £6M to buy a 30 year old striker. £2M to keep him happy. Never seeing Nikola Žigić again? Priceless)
Anyway, it's finally done. Makoun is at Aston Villa and Gerard Houllier has shown he really does have a decent head on his shoulder. While it may not be the most splashy signing, Makoun certainly fills a need for the club and there's no reason to think his skills won't translate at Villa Park. Houllier knew exactly what he wanted and he flew over to France and snagged him. And Makoun was willing to come (although I have to wonder if we needed to convince him with a chauffeured car, a la Robert Pires?), which seems massive at this moment, considering where Villa are in the table. I don't know about anyone else, but my confidence in Houllier is climbing back up.
(Please don't make me regret saying that on Sunday, Houllier)