Aston Villa will only complete a deal for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina on the condition AC Milan find a suitable replacement for him, according to his agent.
Villa boss Dean Smith has identified signing a goalkeeper as one of his main priorities in the January transfer window, following the recent season-ending ACL injury to Tom Heaton.
To make matters worse back-up stopper Jed Steer faces at least another two months out too as he recovers from a calf injury.
Smith still has a further three international goalkeepers on his books in Norway’s Orjan Nyland, Croatia’s Lovre Kalinic and Matija Sarkic of Montenegro, who was recalled from his loan at Livingston after Heaton’s injury.
Yet Smith is close to luring the former Liverpool no.1 back to England, following negotiations with the Rossoneri this week.
The 37-year-old, who spent nine years at Anfield from 2005 to 2014 and made 394 appearances, has featured just once for AC Milan this season, and 13 overall since moving to the San Siro in the summer of 2018.
As back-up to Gianluigi Donnarumma, manager Stefano Pioli has made it clear to agent Manuel Garcia Quilon, following the latest round of talks, that Reina will only be allowed to leave once another goalkeeper is in place.
Speaking to Sky Italia, Quilon confirmed: “There’s no agreement. We continue to negotiate, but the Rossoneri would like to bring in a replacement first.”
It is understood the deal in place for Reina is a short-term six-month contract, with a year extension should Villa retain their place in the Premier League.
At present, Smith’s side are one place and one point above the relegation zone.