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Villa close in on Samatta

Mbwana Samatta

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 it is understood 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 tomorrow.

Boss Dean Smith has also been linked with Leicester striker Islam Slimani, currently on loan at Monaco, 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."