The French side reportedly failed to meet Gana's £7 million buy-out clause, forcing them to turn their attention to fellow midfielder Sanchez.
Sanchez, 30, joined Villa from Spanish side Elche in August 2014 for a reported £4.7 million fee after helping Colombia reach their first-ever World Cup quarter-final in Brazil and has since made 56 total appearances for the club, recording one goal and three assists.
The defensive midfielder, whose contract runs until 2018, has impressed in fits and starts during his spell in the West Midlands, but he has also struggled to adjust to the pace of English football and failed to hold down a regular starting spot under either Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood, Remi Garde or former caretaker boss Eric Black as a result.
Nevertheless, he has continued to fare well at the international level in the meantime, including in a handful of games at last month’s Copa America Centenario in the USA, and is now believed to be the subject of interest from Marseille.
According to the Birmingham Mail’s report, the Ligue 1 club had been courting midfield teammate Idrissa Gana following Villa’s relegation to the Championship but could not afford to pay the £7 million needed to activate the buy-out clause in his contract – despite recent claims to the contrary.
They are now said to have turned their attention to Sanchez and are reportedly primed to lodge a £3 million bid for his signature after getting positive reports back from scouts who saw him in action at the Copa America.
Villa will more than likely accept that offer after adding the highly-rated Aaron Tshibola to an already deep group of midfielders this past weekend and a deal could even be agreed before the Colombian is due to return for preseason training next week.
He has incidentally already spent plenty of time in France, having enjoyed a six-year stint with Valenciennes between 2007 and 2013 before making the switch to Elche after featuring almost 200 times for the now Ligue 2 outfit.