YEPES EDGING TOWARDS VILLA
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
ACCORDING to planetfootball.com`s sources in South America, River Plate defender Mario Yepes is close to joining fellow countryman Juan Pablo Angel at Aston Villa.
River have denied rumours that Yepes would be leaving, but the seeming prospect of a $14 million transfer fee is too good for the Argentine giants to turn down.
West Ham were also linked to the 25-year-old last week, but according to reports in Argentina, Villa Park is where Yepes may be plying his trade in the very near future.
Villa boss John Gregory has already declared that he wants another Colombian to help record £9.5 million signing Angel settle and he had targeted Boca Juniors` midfielder Mauricio Serna.
But 32-year-old Serna is a midfielder and Gregory now appears to have turned his attentions to his defence which has been leaking goals of late and Yepes at 24 would be a more exciting prospect for Villa fans.
The fee could prove a major stumbling block as it is unlikel that Villa will be prepared to pay the near £10 million transfer fee.
River want $14 million dollars because they only own half of the player and therefore $7 million would go to Yepes` former club Deportivo Cali.
A director of River said: "This is one transfer that is advantageous for the club, it will surely be cleared and approved by the club without any problems by the directors.
"If the sale of Aimar for $22 million dollars can be approved, then they are not going to stop Yepes leaving for $14 million."