Sunderland must cough up for Villa's Maloney
Maloney has failed to settle at Villa Park since joining from Celtic in January 2007, and a move back to the SPL champions has been muted.
However Villa paid just £1 million as he was nearing the end of his contract and the Hoops may be unwilling to pay the extra £3million needed to re-sign their former trainee.
Sunderland are not put off by the asking price, though, and hope their close location to the border will persuade the 25-year-old to join them this summer.
Maloney has started just 18 games for Villa and is likely to jump at the chance to be reunited with Keane - the pair played together for six month's at Celtic before the Irishman's retirement - if the Black Cats boss can offer him regular first-team football.