Steven Gerrard is expected to be appointed the new Aston Villa manager on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
Villa are set to finalise a deal to appoint the Rangers boss in the next 48 hours, with compensation of between £3.25-4m agreed with the Scottish club for Gerrard and his assistant Gary McAllister.
Gerrard, 41, has been in charge of Rangers since June 2018 and led the club to the Scottish Premiership title last season, ending Celtic’s nine-year reign as champions.
Villa have moved swiftly to appoint a new manager after sacking Dean Smith on Sunday, following a run of five successive Premier League defeats.
The club sit 16th in the Premier League table, two points above the relegation zone after 11 games of their campaign.
Gerrard’s first match in charge is set to be the Premier League match against Brighton on November 20.
The former Liverpool captain had dinner with Villa chief executive Christian Purslow in London on Wednesday night.
Discussions are ongoing for the rest Gerrard’s backroom staff to join him at Villa Park, while Smith’s coaching staff are expected to leave the club in due course.
Villa announced the departure of Craig Shakespeare, assistant head coach under Smith, on Monday.
‘Gerrard Villa’s leading candidate’
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett:
“It’s been pretty clear for the last 24 hours or so that Steven Gerrard wants this move to happen.
“Aston Villa sacked Dean Smith on Sunday and said they would take a couple of days to assess their options. We know Roberto Martinez was on their shortlist, as was Kasper Hjulmand, the Denmark coach, but it always felt like Gerrard was their leading candidate the favoured man Villa wanted to appoint.
“There are one or two legal details to get through, but we expect Gerrard to be appointed Aston Villa manager in the next 48 hours [from Thursday morning], it may even be sooner than that.
“This is big, big news. We’re talking about two of the biggest clubs in Britain: Rangers, one of the biggest clubs north of the border, losing their manager, and Aston Villa, one the biggest clubs in the Premier League, gaining Steven Gerrard.
“Add to that Steven Gerrard is a stellar name as a former Liverpool and England midfielder, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a huge story.”
‘Gerrard would be an exciting appointment’
Former Villa defender Richard Dunne believes, despite his relative inexperience, Gerrard would be a strong appointment by the club.
Dunne told Sky Sports News: “I think it’s very exciting. He’s a young manager and not been in the game very long but what he’s done at Rangers has been exceptional.
“The way that he holds himself in terms of his professionalism has been brilliant and he’s led that club really well since being there.
“He’s won the league and has that experience of European football so I think for Villa fans it would be an exciting appointment.”
Emile Heskey, who himself spent three years at Villa as a player, also believes Gerrard would be a successful appointment.
“He’s done U18s and now done first-team football, and not just done it but done a fantastic job. Not just a fantastic job domestically but also in Europe,” Heskey told Sky Sports News.
“This is a key thing. He’s earned his stripes. You can understand why clubs have looked at him and the leadership he brings for players on the pitch and around the club.
“I totally get it, he’s a fantastic coach and his teams are going out there and winning games.”
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who enjoyed four fruitful years as a player at Villa Park between 1998 and 2002, concedes Gerrard has been managing a “massive club” in Rangers – but believes opportunities like this one rarely come along.
“Everyone wants to manage in the Premier League. That is no disrespect to the Scottish Premiership. Rangers and Celtic are bigger clubs than probably half of the teams in the Premier League.
“But it’s the Premier League, and when you start out managing, I’m sure in the back of people’s minds if you could get a job like Aston Villa – wow.
“Management is all about timing. If you’re rolling and you’re the flavour of the month, you’ve got to take the opportunity.
“Years ago when Sir Alex Ferguson was coming towards the end of his time at Manchester United, it was whether Steve Bruce or Mark Hughes would succeed him. If either of them had won 10 on the trot around that time they would have probably got the job.
“It’s all about timing, and I don’t see how many times jobs like Aston Villa come up. I was fortunate enough to play for Aston Villa for four years, this is a big football club, a massive football club.
“If you live in the Midlands, I think you appreciate it more than people in London, Manchester, or Liverpool, but make no mistake, it’s a huge club. If Aston Villa come knocking, it is a big opportunity.”
Villa are closing in on appointing Gerrard but what will be top of the agenda for the new man at Villa Park?
From gelling new signings, sorting out the defence, promoting youth and connecting with the fans, we leaf through Gerrard’s potential in-tray…
November 20: Aston Villa vs Brighton – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
November 27: Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
December 1: Aston Villa vs Man City – Premier League, 8.15pm
December 5: Aston Villa vs Leicester – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
December 11: Liverpool vs Aston Villa – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
December 14: Norwich vs Aston Villa – Premier League, 7.45pm