Martin O’Neill hopes to start his Aston Villa reign with a £4million swoop for Fulham’s Steed Malbranque.

But O’Neill may have to wait until American tycoon Randy Lerner’s proposed takeover of the club is finalised before meeting the French midfielder’s demand of £60,000-a-week.

Transfer-listed Malbranque has snubbed Middlesbrough, West Ham and Manchester City — with Fulham boss Chris Coleman blasting his player for being too greedy.

O’Neill hopes to convince Malbranque that Villa will become a big enough club to satisfy his ambition of making France’s international team.

If the Lerner takeover takes too long to materialise, O’Neill may have to wait until January to land his man.

Coleman is desperate to cash in on Malbranque, 26, this summer rather than allow him to move for free next year.

But he has told the player he can rot in the Cottagers’ reserves if he does not accept a move.