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Mariga on Villa's radar

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 23- Aston Villa boss, Gerard Houllier is keen to make Harambee Stars midfielder, MacDonald Mariga the first Kenya player in the popular English Premier League (EPL).

Mariga’s big money move to another EPL side, Manchester City, failed last season after the player was denied a work permit by UK’s Home Office but Houllier is currently leading the chase for the Kenyan international who has failed to hold a place at European champions, Inter Milan, who signed him last January.

According to TalkSport, Mariga has fallen out of favour with current Inter manager Leonardo and has started only two Serie A games all season although he did score against Udinese.

TalkSport and other agencies reported Tuesday Inter will be willing to listen to offers of around £4.5m (Sh621m) for the player and sources in Italy have revealed that Villa are currently considering a bid.

Mariga became the first and only Kenyan player to win Europe’s elite club competition, the UEFA Champions League under Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho who fielded him as a late substitute in the 2-0 win over Germany’s Bayern Munich in the final.

Mourinho signed Mariga from Parma after his move to Manchester City collapsed. Villa the 1982 European champions are sitting in 14th place in the Barclays Premier League standings on 33 points, just a point above the relegation places and face a huge challenge to beat the drop with eight matches left in the season.

Mariga arrived in Kenya on Tuesday night to prepare for Harambee Stars must win 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Angola on Saturday at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium. The midfielder who is an alumnus of Kamukunji High School missed Stars’ previous international match against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

Angola arrive for the clash on Friday.

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