Sky Sports reports that Aston Villa are closing in on the double signing of Barnsley duo James Bree and Conor Hourihane. The pair both started for the Tykes in their weekend victory over local rivals Leeds United, but advanced negotiations continue over their sale to one-time European Cup winners.
Separate deals look set to be finalised in the coming days which would take the pair to Villa Park on permanent deals. Steve Bruce recently stated that he had hoped to sign Hourihane, whilst the player himself, and also Paul Heckingbottom, hinted that a deal was in the pipeline as well. As for Bree, he had been linked with this move, but many big Premier League clubs were mentioned to be in the running for the talented defender as well.
A cryptic tweet from Aston Villa owner Dr Tony Xia also eludes to the fact that both deals are said to be 95% done.
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) January 23, 2017
Both 19-year-old Bree and 25-year-old Hourihane are out of contract at Oakwell at the end of this season, and Aston Villa look set to part way with £3million each to sign the players up in time for the remainder of the season, as they look to salvage any prospect of finishing in the Sky Bet Championship play-off places.
Barnsley owner Patrick Cryne has an unfortunate illness, which has supposedly slowed down the deal going ahead before now. Nevertheless, Bruce maintains full confidence that the deal will go through quickly, hopefully in time for their next match, away to Brentford on Janaury 31st.
Irishman Hourihane has netted six goals this season and has been a major creative force for a few seasons now. He played a major part in their promotion campaign last season, whilst Bree has played over 50 first-team matches already.