Aston Villa want to appoint Steven Gerrard as their next manager, with the Rangers boss open to the idea of moving to the Premier League.

GOAL has learned that Gerrard, 41, is Villa’s No.1 choice to replace Dean Smith, who was sacked on Sunday after a disappointing start to the season.

And an official approach to Rangers could be made this week, with the Midlands club keen to make an appointment before their next Premier League game, at home to Brighton on November 20.

Gerrard is under contract at Rangers until 2024, and though the Scottish champions would be extremely reluctant to allow him to leave mid-season, they know they would be unable to stop him should Villa pay a compensation fee, believed to be around £2.5m ($3.3m).

The former Liverpool midfielder is revered at Ibrox having guided the Gers to the league title last season, preventing fierce rivals Celtic from completing a 10th successive triumph in the process.

Rangers top the table again this season, but it is understood that Gerrard would find the opportunity to manage a Premier League club difficult to turn down.

He is widely expected to succeed Jurgen Klopp as manager of Liverpool, but Klopp himself is contracted until 2024 and is certainly not expected to step down before then.

Villa, then, could be the ideal bridge, allowing Gerrard to test himself in the English top-flight, at an ambitious and well-supported club.

He already knows Christian Purslow, the chief executive, from their time together at Anfield, and a job in the Midlands would benefit Gerrard personally, with his family still based on Merseyside.

One potential stumbling block, aside from the compensation which would be due to Rangers, would be the amount of staff he would wish to bring with him, should he decide to move.

Gerrard has assembled a close-knit coaching team at Rangers, and would almost certainly wish to take the likes of assistant manager Gary McAllister, coaches Michael Beale and Tom Culshaw, as well as fitnessd coach Jordan Milsom, to Villa.

Villa are understood to have made tentative enquiries about a host of other potential candidates, including Southampton boss RalphHasenhuttl and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez.

Brighton’s Graham Potter is another who is highly regarded, while former Villa assistant manager John Terry would be keen on the job, though is unlikely to be considered at this stage.

Kasper Hjumland, the Denmark manager, is another name that has been linked, though he is thought to have little interest in taking the role.