By Duncan Castles
Aston Villa and Stoke City are both considering making an offer for France Under-21 international Thievy Bifouma as they look to strengthen their attacks for next season.
Currently on a season loan at Las Palmas, the 20-year-old has been one of the revelations of the Spanish Segunda Division, scoring 13 times in 38 second-tier and Copa del Rey appearances.
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Espanyol's debt stood at €144 million at the end of the last financial year and, although they look likely to avoid relegation this season, the Catalan club are expected to sell to raise funds again this summer.
Eligible to represent both France and Cameroon at full-international level, Thievy has been been converted from a left-sided forward to a central striker at Las Palmas, claiming five goals in has last 10 games.
Known for his pace across the ground, he also scored a hat-trick against Barcelona in the 2011 Copa Catalunya, albeit against weakened opposition.
Ideally, Villa would like to retain Christian Benteke as their centre-forward next season. However, they are aware that the Belgium international's agent is pushing for a move to a stronger club after a debut Premier League campaign in which he has scored 18 times in 33 appearances for a relegation-threatened side.
No one has scored more than eight league goals for Stoke with Jonathan Walters surpassing the totals of Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jones.
Carrying one of the oldest squads in the division, Stoke have been seeking to recruit younger players like Thievy. West Ham had also monitored the forward, but are understood to have shifted their focus elsewhere.