Villa in 12m Downing deal

ASTON VILLA are closing in on the &pound;12m signing of Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing after the clubs agreed a fee yesterday.<br /><br />Downing, who has been ruled out until October with a foot injury, spent the afternoon in the midlands discussing personal terms with Villa.<br /><br />Relegated Boro have admitted they are ready to sell their most valuable player, who has established himself a regular fixture in the England set-up.<br /><br />Downing&rsquo;s arrival at Villa, however, will only fuel rumours that he could replace Ashley Young, who has been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.<br /><br />Spurs have also chased Downing, 22, and failed with a bid for him during the January transfer window. Everton, too, have been mentioned as potential suitors, but Villa manager Martin O&rsquo;Neill leads the chase for the left-footer.<br /><br />Boro refused to let Downing leave while they were battling for their Premier League survival. But having slipped out of the top flight they know they cannot keep hold of the youth product any longer.<br /><br />Downing suffered his injury playing against Villa in May but was last week told he could step up his rehabilitation by a London specialist.<br /><br />He is due to have a screw removed from a bone in his foot in September and will then resume intensive training, but will still need weeks to be ready for first-team football.