Aston Villa have agreed a £5 million fee with French Ligue 1 side Lyon for the transfer of midfielder Jean II Makoun.
However, Villa are yet to agree personal terms with the 27-year-old and if the deal goes through the Premier League side could have to pay an extra £2.5 million in add-ons.
Villa boss Gerard Houllier has spent the last 24 hours in France talking to his former club in a bid to complete his first major signing since taking over at Villa Park in September.
Houllier said: "Makoun could be a good asset for us because he is experienced and has played in the Champions League with Lille and Lyon. He is exactly what we need. He can play as a holding player or as a box-to-box midfielder."
Makoun has been a key performer for Lyon this season and manager Claude Puel will be sad to see the Cameroon international leave the Stade de Gerland.
"We know what Jean II's brought us recently, he's an important member of the team," Puel told L'Equipe. "But there are financial factors a club has to consider. I'm considering them.
"Replacement? No, our winter transfer market will be our players returning to top form. We have a quality group."
Meanwhile, Villa boss Houllier laughed off speculation that he is preparing an ambitious swoop for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
He said: "I don't think Benzema will come to Villa. Jose (Mourinho) said he is missing strikers so how can he get rid of one of the only ones he has available at the moment?
"I think he is trying to sign a new striker. I didn't even dare to get in touch with Jose because I know the situation he is in at the moment!''
Houllier remains interested in signing Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam after having bids of £2.5 million and £3.5 million rejected.
He said: "We did things the right way. We went to the club and said we were interested in the player. But there has not been any official reply except what I read from Ian (Holloway). Everyone is entitled to say what they want.
"Will we be back in for him? It is difficult to say at the moment. He knows we want him, probably. But he has got a contract with his club so I can't say more about that.''