Over at the Birmingham Mail, Mat Kendrick has some words from Gerard Houllier on Yacouba Sylla, the 22-year-old midfielder set to move to to Aston Villa from Clermont Foot. Sylla has reportedly arrived in Birmingham to undergo a medical prior to a £1.75 million switch from the French Ligue 2 side, and though the arrival of an imposing 6'0" defensive midfielder is encouraging, without knowing the specifics it's difficult to work up too much in the way of enthusiasm. Ligue 2 is a difficult league to follow, and even the most well-informed Villa fans aren't quite sure what to expect from Paul Lambert's newest signing.
Fortunately, Gerard Houllier does know a thing or two about thee French second division, and even more fortunately, he seems to think highly of Sylla. I would of course urge you to read Kendrick's piece linked above, but the gist of things is that Villa's newest recruit is very much a defensive midfielder that is highly thought of in his native country. Ged seems to be of the belief that the quality needed to make an impact at the Premier League level is there, and he also notes that Clermont is know for bringing quality youth players through their ranks.
Plenty of Villa fans don't have the fondest memories or highest opinions of Houllier, but even they would likely admit that he's in a much better position to judge young French talent than most others. I personally continue to have a great deal of affection for Houllier, and if he thinks Sylla is a good young player then you can count mark me down as excited. At the very least, he's a player that fills a glaring hole on this squad, and one that wouldn't be a drag on the club's resources should the worst happen come May. Is this the kind of move that should have anyone doing cartwheels in the streets? Probably not. But the more I hear about the Sylla, the more excited I am to see him in action.