Aston Villa are reportedly closing in on Steven Gerrard following the dismissal of Dean Smith on Sunday.
The Daily Record claim Villa ‘are on the brink’ of landing Gerrard – their number one target – and could complete the deal in the coming days.
The Guardian report that Villa will approach Rangers in the next 48 hours for permission to speak to Gerrard, while reports in Scotland claim the move could be made today following ‘frantic negotiations’ behind the scenes.
Gerrard is under contract at Ibrox until 2024 but is said to be keen on a return to the Premier League.
A compensation package of around £2million will have to be paid to Rangers to lure him away, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the Villa owners.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez is also on Villa’s shortlist should their move for Gerrard not materialise, while Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand has ruled himself out of contention.
Whoever takes charge will have to arrest the club’s slump in form that sees them just two points above the relegation zone after no wins since September.
But Rangers legend Brian Laudrup has urged Gerrard to stick with the Scottish club as he has “unfinished business”.
Laudrup said: “The first thing I would say about Aston Villa’s interest in Steven Gerrard is the same as when he was linked with Newcastle.
“It’s great for the image of Scottish football to have one of its managers being talked about for the English Premier League.
“Otherwise, though, I see a number of issues. If you look at the best managers in the world, it is quite rare for them to go to a team midway through the season.
“My brother, Michael, always said if you wanted to achieve something then you couldn’t do it by coming into a job halfway through a season. You can’t change that much, you don’t have a pre-season to prepare things and you probably can’t buy many of the players you want.
“It’s definitely not a win-win situation. I’d be surprised if Gerrard went to Aston Villa at this point. I’d hope he would stay at Ibrox for the rest of this season.
“He has shown loyalty towards Rangers over his time in charge, but the club has also shown huge loyalty to him since first offering that chance to take his first step in management.
“Listen, Gerrard paid them back by delivering the title last season, but I still see unfinished business in the current campaign – another title, the Scottish Cup, the League Cup. There is a chance to get Rangers into the Champions League, with all the huge benefits it would bring to a club which last week posted a £23.5 million loss.
“There are so many things still in front of him for the next six or seven months. I’d like to think his focus will stay at Ibrox over that period.”