Paul Lambert in Aston Villa talks after Norwich resignation

Lambert holds talks with Aston Villa despite Norwich rejecting his resignation

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UPDATED:

14:02 GMT, 31 May 2012

Paul Lambert looks set to become Aston Villa’s new boss after he offered to resign from his position as Norwich manager.

It is understood Lambert had a bust-up with the Norwich board after they refused him permission to speak to Villa. They have rejected the Scot's resignation.

A statement on the Canaries' website read: 'The club regrets to confirm that Paul Lambert has offered his resignation from his position as Norwich City manager.

On his way Paul Lambert leaves Norwich's training ground on Thursday morning

On his way Paul Lambert leaves Norwich's training ground on Thursday morning

'We have fought hard to keep Paul at
Norwich City and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions
with another club are taking place.

'However, whatever happens, we want
to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done
for the club over the last three fantastic seasons.

'When Paul joined us in August 2009
we were in 66th position in the English football pyramid and the club
was on the brink of financial meltdown.

'Today we are a Barclays Premier League football club, on a financially sound footing and with a stadium full to capacity.

'Discussions with Paul throughout the
last few days have been professional and amicable. Paul has already
earned his place in Norwich City Football Club history and, no matter
what happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow Road.

On the Paul: Aston Villa have made Lambert their No 1 priority

On the Paul: Aston Villa have made Lambert their No 1 priority

'Meanwhile, contrary to some media
speculation, the club does not need to sell any players and the finances
are in place to substantially strengthen the excellent squad which
helped us finish in 12th position in the Premier League last season.'

'Rest assured that everyone behind the scenes at Carrow Road remains absolutely focused on continuing to help the Club progress.

Lambert has been on the Villa’s
shortlist since Alex McLeish was sacked.Their first choice was Wigan
manager Roberto Martinez and there was a third candidate, believed to be
Brendan Rodgers, but Villa are happy with a choice that has been made
with the blessing of fans.

They have fall-back options, understood to be Brighton’s Gus Poyet and former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, if they cannot get Lambert.

But he is the top target after it became clear, as outlined in Sportsmail on Wednesday, that Martinez had lost ground when interviewed by Liverpool owner John W Henry last week. Martinez contacted Villa three days ago to say his interest was concrete but chief executive Paul Faulkner told him owner Randy Lerner would not wait.

Talks: Martinez held discussion with Liverpool's owners

Talks: Martinez held discussion with Liverpool's owners

Martinez contacted Villa three days ago to say that his interest in the position was concrete but he was informed by chief executive Paul Faulkner that Randy Lerner was not prepared to wait to get his man and had progressed with alternative plans.

Villa have used an intermediary to smooth a path to the Norfolk club and compensation for the 42-year-old should be agreed swiftly.

Lerner was anxious to re-connect with supporters following the ill-advised decision to appoint McLeish and Lambert appeared the most popular choice on fans' websites.

On Thursday Villa keeper Shay Given said he would welcome Lambert's appointment.

The 36-year-old, who is away in Italy
with the Republic of Ireland squad as they prepare for Euro 2012, said:
'If that's the case – I have no idea, because I am stuck in Italy
somewhere, about what's going on at Aston Villa – but if Paul was to
come in, he would be a great appointment because he is a fantastic
manager.

'Since he took the hot-seat at any club he has been at, he has just gone all the way up all the time, so hopefully if they can get that done, that would be great news for the club.

'The sooner the manager is in place for next season – because he will have targets and players he will want to get in himself – the sooner that's done, the better.'

It means Martinez has missed out on the chance to manage Villa for the second season in succession following his very public snub 12 months ago.

Not that the Wigan boss should worry. He still has two years left to run on his contract with the Lancashire club and Wigan owner Dave Whelan may even look to improve it.

Moving on: Rodgers is set to join Liverpool

Moving on: Rodgers is set to join Liverpool

He said: 'Roberto is staying at Wigan and, of course, I am absolutely delighted.

'He was never offered the job at Liverpool because he was not happy with the way that it was presented to him. He has had some talks with Villa but he's not going to go there either. Villa are a fantastic club with great supporters but I never thought they were big enough for him.

'I've said all along that I never thought he would end up there and, fortunately for us, that's how it has turned out.

'If Roberto is to go anywhere, it will be to one of the top clubs in Europe. We're just so pleased he's staying with us.'

Whelan added: 'During the course of our meeting, we discussed a lot of things and it was very productive. I've agreed to his request to up our spending on youth development and training facilities. That's going to be pretty costly as I've agreed to a full-sized indoor pitch – that will cost 1.5million. 'I have also agreed to bring in three or four new players.

'We want Roberto to be happy at Wigan and we will be aiming to make sure that we do everything we can to keep him.'