Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is ready to prove his ambition with a shock move for Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole.

The Birmingham Mail says Cole is the man in the frame to become Villa's most exciting new arrival since Paul Merson and Stan Collymore arrived in the late 1990s.

Cole would cost in the region of £15million but that tag will not frighten off Villa owner Randy Lerner, who is bankrolling his manager's efforts to build on last season's sixth-place finish.