Villa deny new bid for Stewart Downing

Villa today denied claims that Arsenal have joined the bidding for Stewart Downing as boss Alex McLeish fought to keep the England midfielder at the club.

Villa today denied claims that Arsenal have joined the bidding for Stewart Downing as boss Alex McLeish fought to keep the England midfielder at the club.

The claret and blues, having last week rejected a £15m offer from Liverpool for the 26-year-old, insist that remains the only concrete move for Downing so far, despite weekend reports Arsene Wenger was now in touch with the club about the player.

McLeish insists Downing is not for sale, although it's believed the Villa boss will recommend the club change their stance if Liverpool hit the £20million reserve on last season’s unanimous choice forf Player of the Year.

But McLeish, who is edging closer to his first signings as Villa boss with moves for Tottenham’s Alan Hutton and Manchester City’s Shay Given, still has the preferred option of persuading Downing to re-focus on Villa for at least one more year of the two years remaining on his contract.

Downing is believed to be so set on a move to Anfield he will hand in a written transfer request, with Liverpool plotting an improved offer in the region of £18million.

Wigan winger Charles N’Zogbia is a target for Villa, but his hopes of securing the French winger have been dented by the club's owner Dave Whelan.

He said: I see some of the players being sold for £20m-£30m and ‘Zoggy’ is better than them.

“We have had some bids but nowhere near our valuation.”