Aston Villa Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of December 9

Joshua Hayward@@JoshuaHayward99Contributor IDecember 9, 2013

Aston Villa Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of December 9

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    With just 23 days remaining until the January transfer window opens, managers will be assessing strengths and weaknesses throughout their team and more than likely have a select list of possible transfer targets.

    Of course, very rarely do those in charge give anything away as to whom they may be after in the run-up to the business end of the season.

    That doesn't stop media outlets from speculating, however. Back pages of newspapers, social media and websites are packed with rumours of which team is chasing which player.

    Some of the rumours prove to be nothing more than that, though there are others that appear to have substance. Regardless of that, let's take a look at the transfer news and rumours surrounding Aston Villa.

Shay Given Wants Out!

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    Former Republic of Ireland keeper Shay Given has expressed his desire to leave Villa in January. The 27-year-old stopper has endured a tough last 16 months at the Midlands-based club and is now seeking a move elsewhere.

    Given was brought in during the summer of 2011 and was instantly awarded the No. 1 jersey.

    However, following Paul Lambert's appointment in 2012, Given was dropped and replaced by American custodian Brad Guzan, who has repaid Lambert's faith by being Villa's most consistent performer over the last year.

    Given has subsequently been sent on loan to Middlesbrough and since told Sky Sports that he is hoping for a permanent move away from Villa in January:

    It's a perfect platform to try and get a move in January. I will keep every option open, whatever league or country that is in. I'm not bothered.

    I have found it difficult, I really have. When you are training for months on end and not playing, of course it is difficult.

    Paul Lambert picked Brad and he has played very well. I've no real complaints about that.

    Given kept a clean sheet on his debut against Bolton and will hope to perform at a similar level to catch the eye of any potential suitors in January.

    Villa reportedly paid a fee of around £3.5 million for the Irish keeper in 2011 and would be lucky to get one-third of that back come the turn of the year.

    But with youngster Jed Steer, Villa's second-choice keeper, Lambert is sure to let Given leave if an offer does come in following the festive period.

Ivelin Popov Admits Villa Interest

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    Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov has revealed that Aston Villa are interested in acquiring his services in January.

    The attacking midfielder currently plays for Russian side Kuban Krasnodar and could potentially link up with compatriot Aleksandar Tonev if the move were to come to fruition.

    In an interview with Dariknews (h/t, Popov revealed that Villa were hot on his heels and that his agent was taking care of proceedings. "Interest from Aston Villa? Indeed such information has reached me, but I do not wish to go into details before things are certain. My agent is moving things forward," he said.

    It certainly appears that Popov would be keen on a move to Villa, but if a team in the Premier League can offer him European football, then he may be tempted to move somewhere other than Birmingham.

    Kuban Krasnodar are currently battling it out with European giants in the Europa League and a move to Villa could only be scuppered by their inability to offer similar opportunities.

    However, with Tonev currently at the club and former Bulgaria captain Stiliyan Petrov having played for Villa for seven years, Popov may just be persuaded to join Lambert's men.

Villa Eye Potential Christian Benteke Replacement

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    According to the Mirror, Lambert recently took a trip to the Netherlands in order to keep tabs on PSV striker Jurgen Locadia—a man who could reportedly replace Christian Benteke.

    Villa's talismanic striker notched 19 goals in his debut season and was linked with a number of high-profile clubs around Europe, but after initially handing in a transfer request, he signed a contract extension through to 2017.

    However, after four goals in his first four games of this campaign—despite none in his last nine—it appears that the rumours surrounding a possible move are back.

    And, naturally, with reports linking Benteke with an exit, rumours currently suggest that Villa are looking for a replacement.

    The Mirror's Alan Nixon writes:

    Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is chasing PSV Eindhoven striker Jurgen Locadia – as he searches for Christian Benteke’s replacement

    Lambert made a hush-hush trip to Holland to see the big and bustling 20-year-old hitman in action for the Dutch giants last weekend.

    Locadia – a strapping 6ft 3in tall – is a similar type of player and Lambert is weighing up whether to make a £4million offer for him if Benteke attracts a bid in the transfer window.

    Villa will, of course, hope that they can keep hold of the Belgian and may still be interested in Locadia if possible.

    The Villans have found goals from all over the pitch this season—even the two full-backs have scored—but the strikers have struggled in front of goal.

    Though Lambert signed Nicklas Helenius and Libor Kozak during the summer, the two have failed to impress this term.

    Kozak has found the net on two occasions, but has done very little else to contribute towards the team. Helenius has seen just 52 minutes of league action and failed to inspire—something which could force Lambert into bringing in another striker.