Aston Villa and Newcastle United are battling for Marseille left-back Taye Taiwo.

The People says Villa boss Gerard Houllier wants the powerful Taiwo, 25, and is keen to beat Newcastle to his signature - with a deal close as the French-based defender will become a free agent in the summer.

Taiwo can sign a pre-contract agreement because his talks with Marseille have broken down.

The imposing defender had a solid game against Manchester United in the Champions League last week when he was drafted in to mark Nani.

 Click here for the No1 coverage of all the gossip and transfer news around Newcastle United.