Aston Villa are considering signing Owen Hargreaves on a pay-as-you-play deal, writes Duncan Castles. The England international midfielder is a free agent after being released by Manchester United because of his long-standing knee problems. Still just 30 years old he would offer experienced cover in midfield with the club agreeing to loan Jean II Makoun to Olympiakos for the season yesterday. Villa manager Alex McLeish is also attempting to complete a deal for Scotland international Alan Hutton, who has been deemed surplus to requirments at Tottenham Hotspur. He is understood to face competition from Fulham for the right back, a £9 million (Dh54m) acquisition from Glasgow Rangers in January 2008.
Zico, the Brazilian legend, has agreed to take over as the coach of Iraq, hoping to revive the team's fortunes following a disappointing run of results. Najih Hamoud, the Iraq Football Federation president, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview yesterday that a final agreement on Zico's one-year contract was reached late on Sunday. "The deal with Zico is done and he started his work with our team," Hamoud said. "We hope to see good results by Zico and our national team." Hamoud declined to say how much the Brazilian would be paid, although he is expected to get a bonus for every game Iraq wins.
Fenerbahce say they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after their removal from the Champions League by the Turkish Football Federation over a match-fixing scandal. Fenerbahce said in a statement yesterday that they were holding talks with two lawyers who would represent the club at the CAS. More than 30 people, including the Fenerbahce president, Aziz Yildirim, have been arrested in the ongoing match-fixing investigation that allegedly involved 19 games last season.
Queens Park Rangers
Armand Traore, the Arsenal defender, was reportedly undergoing a medical at QPR yesterday. Traore has made just one Premier League appearance for the Gunners in the last 15 months - Sunday's 8-2 defeat to Manchester United - and appears to be surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium despite the club's lack of defensive cover. The left-back, who joined Arsenal from Monaco in 2005, is behind Kieran Gibbs in the Gunners' pecking order. Since his takeover of the Loftus Road club, Tony Fernandes has already bankrolled the signings of Joey Barton and Luke Young.
Davide Santon, the Inter Milan full-back, has opened talks with Newcastle, according to his agent. The 20 year old, who is also wanted by Roma, is among the Newcastle manager Alan Pardew's targets as he looks for a replacement for Jose Enrique, and Claudio Vigorelli, his agent, has claimed negotiations are under way. He told Corriere dello Sport: "At this time, there is no possibility that Santon can join Roma because right now the aim is Newcastle." Newcastle have turned to him having failed, to date, to push home their interest in PSV Eindhoven's Erik Pieters.
Stuart Holden, the United States midfielder, is set to play his first match tonight after almost six months out with a knee injury. Holden announced on Twitter yesterday that he will play for Bolton's reserve team against Fulham in London. He tweeted: "I'm buzzin." The 26-year-old Holden injured his left knee in March playing against Manchester United in the Premier League. Holden needed 26 stitches to close a gash near his knee.
Daniel Agger is enjoying a new lease of life under Kenny Dalglish. The Denmark international defender has been blighted by fitness problems in recent seasons but has started all three Premier League games this term, and is showing good form. Agger, 26, said: "It is enjoyable, I think everybody will say the same. When you play good football and when things are going the right way, everyone enjoys themselves more."