Friday media watch [29.05.14 AM]: Given eager to play
Birmingham Mail: Aston Villa veteran Shay Given has reiterated his desire to start playing again - even though it would mean sacrificing his claret and blue coaching role to move elsewhere. Given recognises that his goalkeeping future more than likely lies away from Villa despite Paul Lambert disbanding the infamous Bomb Squad, the nickname given to the high earners deemed surplus to requirements. The 38-year-old stopper, who has two years left on his contract, is keen for another club to "take a punt" on him this summer after becoming frustrated by his lack of playing opportunities at Villa. Other than a brief loan spell at Middlesbrough between November and February, he has spent most of the past two seasons out of favour, falling behind Brad Guzan and Jed Steer in the pecking order. Lambert insists all of Villa's players will start pre-season with a clean slate, including those on big wages like Given, Darren Bent and Alan Hutton who have previously been sidelined under the current manager. But the former Ireland international is still resigned to leaving the club he joined on a five-year deal in the summer of 2011 if he is to kick-start his playing career.
Independent: A controversial Kazakh-born property mogul has emerged as the "front-runner" to buy Aston Villa, The Independent can reveal. Villa were formally put up for sale by their American owner, Randy Lerner, earlier this month and are expected to fetch at least £250m. The Independent understands from a source involved in the bidding race that Tevfik Arif, founder of New York-based property firm Bayrock Group and a business associate of US billionaire Donald Trump is a "front-runner".
Daily Express: Everton are set to do battle with Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa for Almeria playmaker Aleix Vidal. The versatile attacker has enjoyed a brilliant season in La Liga, scoring six goals and bagging five assists in 38 appearances, and looks set to spark an all-out bidding war. The 24-year-old, who has made 120 appearances for his club since joining in 2011, has four years left on his current deal but would jump at the chance to test himself in the Premier League. The Toffees have emerged as favourites for Vidal's signature, with fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez keen to expand his squad at Goodison Park following Gerard Deulofeu's return to Barcelona. Newcastle are also in the market for an attacker, but will be aware that West Ham and Aston Villa are desperate for new faces too.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Liverpool are close to agreeing a deal for Southampton and England striker Rickie Lambert for a fee of around £4m plus add-ons. The Reds are hopeful Lambert will be able to complete a medical on Saturday before flying out to Miami with the England squad on Sunday.
Sky Sports: England international Frank Lampard is contemplating his future as he prepares for the World Cup finals in Brazil. The 35-year-old concedes his trophy-laden 13 years at Chelsea may be coming to an end this summer.
BBC Sport: Roy Keane has had "an informal chat" with Celtic's majority shareholder, Dermot Desmond, about becoming the Scottish champions' new manager. The meeting was revealed by Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, to whom Keane is presently assistant.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.
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