Leverkusen eye Hammer swoop
By Thomas Zeh
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Bayer coach Klaus Augenthaler was at Villa Park on Sunday, according to German magazine Kicker, to cast an eye over the German Under-21 international and could now attempt to bring 'The Hammer' to the BayArena at the close of this season.
Augenthaler, who saved Bayer from relegation last term and is now ready to lead them into Europe, is planning a massive squad overhaul in the summer - which could see the departure of current favourites Yildiray Basturk, Bernd Schneider, Oliver Neuville and Lucio.
The popular coach is expected to be handed a handsome transfer kitty at the end of the season, which does lend credibility to suggestions of a summer raid on Villa Park.
Leverkusen have never really replaced German international Michael Ballack, who left for Bayern Munich two years ago, and could see Hitzlsperger as an ideal replacement for their former free-scoring midfielder.
Hitzlsperger has attracted the attention of German national team manager Rudi Voller, after a series of imperious displays for Villa this term and could see a return to his homeland as being integral to his ambitions of achieving international recognition.
Meanwhile, the Aston Villa board have announced the appointment of Bruce Langham as the club's new chief executive, with effect from May 10, 2004.