This one will most certainly divide opinion, but if we are indeed looking for another central midfielder that can win the ball and fight for the team then we can do a lot worse than Reo-Coker.
At the time of writing I believe he is still a free agent, and I can't help but think that a free player would save us £7million (if the speculation surrounding Parker turns out to be true). Granted, NRC may not be the 'talisman' in the centre of the park that Parker may be, but he undoubtedly put the effort in last season and our win/loss statistics with him in the team were compelling.
More than any other player in recent history, NRC had reason to be digruntled with Villa after the training ground 'handbags' with O'Neill. But he embraced the new management and gave a good turn out last season. Even under O'Neill he impressed when given the chance. Just take a look at the 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the season before last- he was our standout player and bossed the middle of the park.
It seems to be a strange situation whereby Villa don't value him enough and Reo-Coker values himself a bit too much. By refusing the contract terms offered to him it suggests that he has ideas above his station. A Champions League player he is not, but he is a good, strong player that can win possession in the middle of the park and make things happen.
The lack of offers on NRC's table thus far should tell him that his level was about what Villa offered him. They should all sit down and thrash out a new deal rather than throw £7million away on Parker who, in my opinion, would not bring a great deal more to the team.
NRC wants to play and he wants to win, and he would certainly keep Makoun, Delph and Petrov on their toes in the first team pecking order.
Some will disagree, but with McLeish's recent statement about transfer money it would perhaps make more sense to explore these options.