Espanyol and Rangers in battle for Cuellar signature

Aston Villa’s Carlos Cuellar is at the centre of a tug-of-war transfer battle between Espanyol and Rangers.

The 29-year-old defender is expected to follow Stewart Downing and Ashley Young out of the exit door at Villa Park and is weighing up offers from both Spain and Scotland.

Cuellar, whose impending departure has prompted mixed reactions amongst Villa fans, is available for as little as £2m. Rangers agreed a fee with the Premier League club at the weekend, but Espanyol have since signalled their interest in the centre-half who was pivotal in Osasuna’s climb up to fourth in La Liga in 2005/06.

The centre-back, who can also play full-back, spent a single season at Ibrox where he won SPL Player of the Year and was the heart of the defence which reached the UEFA Cup Final. Under new manager Alex McLeish, Villa appear to be a team in transition and the Spaniard has been allowed to leave.

Rangers chief executive Gordon Smith confirmed Espanyol’s interest but admitting that: “It depends on whether the boy prefers to go back to Spain and play for them or come to Scotland and play for his old club.”

Should Cuellar plump for the Scottish champions, any deal is likely to be completed by Thursday’s deadline for the registration of players for the Champions League third qualifying round.

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