Villa bow to inevitable and slap £25m price tag on Young
Ashley Young might maintain that he is not considering his future just yet, but it appears as though Aston Villa are.
The Midlands club are expected to tell Young's suitors that they must part with at least £25m this summer to prise the England international away a year before his contract ends.
Villa were adamant in January that the forward was not for sale.
But the picture is set to change during the next transfer window, not least because it has become clear that the 25-year-old is ready for a move. He has already left his home in Stourbridge and repeatedly refused to discuss a new contract.
Villa's determination not to sell Young looks like dissolving as his value increases and interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham persists.
Gerard Houllier's side have had an abysmal season, but Young, arguably already Villa's highest-profile player, has seen his stock rise with impressive displays for club and country.
Young's pace and delivery have earned him numerous admirers, but his real asset, which has not gone unnoticed by the likes of Fabio Capello, Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp, is his work ethic. Former Villa manager Martin O'Neill once observed that he is "eight-and-a-half stone wringing wet, but has the heart of a lion," and sources close to the player say that managers know of his impressive Prozone statistics prove it.
Should Young be sold, it will be the third consecutive summer that Villa have seen a marquee name leave. Gareth Barry went to Manchester City in 2009 and James Milner followed suit last summer.
On both occasions the club insisted that they would not sell their players, only to do just that -- according to O'Neill, Barry had earned his move, while owner Randy Lerner saw no sense in turning down £24m for Milner.
Good business it may have been, but it cost Villa their manager.
At least Houllier is understood to be more flexible than O'Neill.
The Frenchman is believed to be privately resigned to losing Young.
How rigid Villa can afford to be on their asking price is another matter, especially as it has emerged they must balance the books after financial results from last season revealed the wage bill accounts for nearly 88pc of total revenues.
Sources at the club have said they are very concerned about losses £37.5m, not helped by their major sponsor FxPro exercising an option in their contract to withdraw from their £3.5m-a-year deal at the end of the season. It is now a top priority to replace them. (© Daily Telegraph, London)