Aston Villa hopes to have Robbie Keane on its roster within the next few hours, and manager Alex McLeish already is anticipating the good things the Galaxy's striker will bring to his club.
The Birmingham club is looking to complete on Monday a loan agreement with L.A., estimated to be worth as much as $1 million, to acquire Keane for seven weeks. The Irish striker has been training with Tottenham in advance of the Galaxy's preseason camp, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 23, and reports from Spurs manager Harry Redknapp have McLeish nearly giddy.
“We've had dialogue with Spurs, and the report back we are getting is that he looks in much better condition than he did this time last year, when he went to West Ham,” McLeish, who as Birmingham City manager tried to acquire Keane on loan from Tottenham a year ago, told reporters over the weekend. “What we are hearing is that he is in tip-top shape. And the Ireland boys have [Euro 2012 this summer] to look forward to. Robbie wants to be at his peak for that.
“We've been speaking. He feels that's the right way to go forward. He feels he wants to keep right on top of his sharpness. So if he has that kind of motivation, it can only be good for us.”
The Galaxy has agreed to the transfer, and it is expected to be finalized after solving what McLeish called a “bit of red tape.”
Aston Villa (5-7-8) is 13th in England's Premier League, scoring just 22 goals in 20 games, and has advanced to the fourth round of the F.A. Cup, in which they'll face the winner of Monday's Arsenal-Leeds United match in three weeks.
Keane, 31, has been a consistent scorer in a career that has included stints at Wolverhampton, Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Liverpool and Celtic. He scored four goals with two assists in 11 competitive matches after signing with the Galaxy in August (and hit the post twice in the playoffs), and tallied four times in three games on L.A.'s postseason tour of Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.
“I think [Keane's arrival] will give everyone a lift. You are now talking about a guy who is at his peak ...,” McLeish said. “He can make it if up if he is not as quick physically by what he has in his head. He loves to play football, he’s got leadership qualities as well that can help in the dressing room, too, and he can score a goal. He’s got great movement, and he can hurt defenders. He’s a very, very experienced player.”