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Aston Villa 'closing in on Mbwana Samatta signing'

:Headline: Aston Villa 'closing in on Mbwana Samatta signing':
Villa are close to striking a deal for Genk forward Mbwana Samatta.
Sports Mole

Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Genk striker Mbwana Samatta.

The Tanzania international has emerged as Villa's number one target after their striker fitness crisis.

No deal has been struck with Genk yet, but the PA news agency understands Villa are close to sealing a move for around £8.5million.

Villa have played the last two games without a recognised striker after Wesley's season-ending knee injury, Jonathan Kodjia's illness and Keinan Davis' hamstring problem.

But even if a deal is secured for Samatta he will not get a work permit in time to play at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Boss Dean Smith has also been linked with former Leicester striker Islam Slimani and admitted the club may have to gamble this month.

He said: "January is even harder without recognised strikers as clubs can stick prices up a bit, it always has been a tough window and we have to take a couple of risks.

"I'm calm and confident we will get players but we have big games and, if we don't get one in by Saturday, it'll be the third in row without a recognised striker.

"We have to make sure we do the best we can without and hope we can get one through.

"There is a necessity there. With Wesley getting injured and Keinan being out we have to strengthen massively so we are looking for a couple."

Samatta – who netted in Genk's 2-1 Champions League defeat at Liverpool in November – has scored 10 goals in 26 games for the Belgian side this season and has 20 goals in 56 games for Tanzania.

But former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina could make his debut at Brighton after joining on loan from AC Milan to cover for Tom Heaton, out for the season with a knee injury.

The 37-year-old watched Sunday's 6-1 defeat against Manchester City which left Villa in the bottom three.

Smith, who remains without John McGinn after he fractured his ankle last month, added: "He has settled in fine which is what I'd expect. It was important we moved quickly and we're very lucky to get someone so vastly experienced.

"He's a leader – he will be a voice in the dressing room we need. We are a fairly young squad and our recruitment in summer was players with potential.

"These kind of players (Reina) can help them fulfil potential by helping them with their experience."

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd17113334241036
2Liverpool1796237211633
3Manchester CityMan City1695225131232
4Leicester CityLeicester17102531211032
5Everton1710252821732
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs1786330161430
7Southampton178542619729
8Aston Villa1582529161326
9Chelsea1775532211126
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham177552421326
11Arsenal187382019124
12Leeds UnitedLeeds177283033-323
13Crystal Palace186572229-723
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves186481926-722
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle175481827-919
16Burnley16448921-1216
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton182882129-814
18Fulham162681424-1012
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1715111139-288
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd181215929-205
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd17113334241036
2Liverpool1796237211633
3Manchester CityMan City1695225131232
4Leicester CityLeicester17102531211032
5Everton1710252821732
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs1786330161430
7Southampton178542619729
8Aston Villa1582529161326
9Chelsea1775532211126
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham177552421326
11Arsenal187382019124
12Leeds UnitedLeeds177283033-323
13Crystal Palace186572229-723
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves186481926-722
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle175481827-919
16Burnley16448921-1216
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton182882129-814
18Fulham162681424-1012
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1715111139-288
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd181215929-205
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