Tony Xia has hinted Wolverhampton Wanderers have a transfer advantage over Aston Villa because of Jorge Mendes' Fosun influence.

Super agent Mendes acts as an adviser to the club's owners Fosun and has been instrumental in transfer dealings over the last 18 months which has seen the likes of Ruben Neves, Helder Costa and Diogo Jota arrive at Molineux.

That recruitment has paid dividends with Wolves currently 12 points clear at the top of the Championship.

The table-toppers have also added Rafa Mir from Valencia this month and continue to be linked with a host of other players.

Villa, meanwhile, will be reliant on loans in January to adhere to Financial Fair Play restrictions as they look to reinforce their promotion bid.

Xia said: "Wolves didn’t need spend much but get loan those players due to M [Mendes] connection.

"No other clubs can get player like Jota playing in Championship, and with very low wage too."

Replying to a Twitter user who suggested that Villa could look for similar ties with an influential agent, Xia warned:" I think you may have very different viewpoints after 2-3 years!"

The Villa owner added: "Yes. If we go up, we will have increased income in many different revenues and allowed more lost for pre clubs every season."

More Villa news

Dr Tony Xia reckons he has turned Aston Villa around from a ‘very serious crisis’ but admits the club are still some way away from achieving their ambitions.

Xia bought the club from American tycoon Randy Lerner after relegation from the Premier League in 2016 and spent near enough £80million in a bid to deliver promotion in 2017.

That didn’t happen but Villa are putting up a greater fight for promotion this season and sit fifth in the Championship.

And Xia reckons the club are now on the right track. He said: “I’m confident we have turned around the club from very serious crisis and improved a lot though it’s still far away from our long term target.

“We’ll get there sooner or later, better than later. Being negative all (the) time doesn’t help anything. Stand together to a unifying culture!”

"The next 10 games will be very very crucial to us this season. I beg all of you do your best to support and that’s all Villans can contribute the most. Believe me, we together will make it this season! Show the Power of the Unified Villa fans!"

Ogbene link

Aston Villa have checked out Irish sensation Chiedozie Ogbene and could move for the Limerick forward, according to our sister title Get West London.

West London duo Chelsea and Brentford have also scouted the 20-year-old with the latter reportedly leading the chase.

Ogbene spent time training at Chelsea’s Cobham base before Christmas and has also spent time using other English clubs’ facilities.

Limerick, who finished seventh in League of Ireland last season, are bracing themselves for offers for Ogbene this month.

Since Dr Tony Xia bought the club from Randy Lerner 18 months ago greater emphasis has been placed on recruiting for the future.

Rookie defenders James Bree and Jacob Bedeau arrived last January while youth team starlets Dimitri Sea and Colin Odutayo checked in over the summer.

And Ogbene is the latest in a long line of young players the club are keeping tabs on.

Steer update

In one fatal blow, it felt as though his Aston Villa season was as good as over.

And what a sobering moment for a man who went above and beyond to keep it alive.

Jed Steer was the stand-out performer as Villa were battered by League One Peterborough United last weekend.

But the claret and blues’ FA Cup exit means only injury, suspension or an unlikely recall for Sam Johnstone will see him back in the starting XI this term.

The on-loan Manchester United stopper is Villa’s current No.1 and rightly so. Johnstone has performed exceptionally well this season.

You can’t help but feel for Steer, though, especially after a disappointing departure from the FA Cup at the first hurdle.

In truth, he hasn’t looked inferior to Johnstone when he’s started, which is good news for Villa should they need to ever call on him again.

The 25-year-old was handed the responsibility of ‘cup goalkeeper’ at the start of the campaign.

United didn’t want Johnstone playing in the cup competitions but Bruce was happy to rotate inbetween the sticks to keep his stoppers fresh, anyway.

And credit to Steer as he played well in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup against Colchester and Wigan and could hardly do anything about the exit to Middlesbrough after Villa were reduced to ten men for the final 30 minutes of the clash.

He was also the man-of-the-match against the Posh on Saturday.

Such were his heroics, Bruce said after the defeat: “There was only one player who can hold his head up high, and that’s the goalkeeper.”

Steer did the job he was asked to do while many of his team-mates failed.

He pulled off four important saves in the first-half to protect Villa’s lead but a late surge from the visitors eventually saw Villa breached.

In his four appearances this term he’s failed to keep a clean sheet.

But he’s saved a penalty, produced two man-of-the-match displays, and helped to keep the scores down in the defeats.

Bruce recognises Steer’s frustrations but knows he can only start with one goalkeeper.

The boss recently praised the way he conducts himself in training and believes he is keeping Johnstone on his toes with an increased push for his spot.

Steer’s temptation to move this month in search of regular games will be real.

But it’s understood he will stick around and at least see out the campaign as Villa push for promotion.

He's been unlucky with injuries - a season-ending Achilles problem last term thwarted his progress after a productive loan spell at Huddersfield in 2015/16.

A loan move would do him good, but there aren't any Championship clubs looking for goalkeepers, at this stage, and Villa are unsure about Johnstone's immediate future so they, too, want him to stay on board.

There's still a chance of United recalling Johnstone if other clubs lodge a bid for his services.

And Villa would have no problems turning to Steer, who has 16 months on his contract remaining, if that situation arises.

Should Johnstone stick around - and Bruce believes he will - the understudy will have a quiet few months ahead of him.

A decision would then need to be made on his future in the summer depending on whether Johnstone signs permanently or not.