Pires in shock Villa move
Birmingham - Robert Pires is to return to the Premiership with Aston Villa later this week - four years after leaving Arsenal - the Midlands club said on Tuesday.
Former France midfielder Pires, a 1998 World Cup winner, had been in talks with Villa - now managed by Frenchman Gerard Houllier - as a free agent following his release by Spanish side Villarreal in pre-season.
Villa are currently short of midfielders, due to injuries, and the 37-year-old Pires, who has been training with Arsenal, may not have long to wait for a debut for his new club.
Pires won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners as well as the European Championship trophy in 2000 with France.
Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister told the club's website, avfc.co.uk: "Robert has been training at Arsenal.
"I know the boss and (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger are very friendly and I believe he's going to join us in the next two or three days.
"It's perfect," added McAllister, himself a former Scotland midfielder.
"I am sure he will arrive at the training ground in good condition. He's a player everyone can look up to because of what he has achieved."
Villa, who said Pires would be "joining the club later this week," are currently ninth in the table.