Liverpool are looking to pinch Aston Villa’s creative forward Ashley Young from under the noses of bitter rivals Manchester United as a part of their rebuilding plans this summer.
Young, 25, has been made the leading target at Anfield, as the Fenway Sports Group look to make Liverpool competitive at the upper echelons of the Premier League again. The talented schemer is seen as the kind of player with the ability to excite the clubs supporters, who can unlock opposing defences and create chances for Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, the January signings.
Current Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish and Director of Football Damien Comolli believe that Young’s crossing ability would be the perfect service that £35m Carroll could thrive on, whilst his pace and trickery would give Liverpool something they have lacked in wide areas for quite some time.
The Aston Villa man has just 15 months left on his contract at Villa Park, and whilst Villa would hope to gain £20m from any prospective transfer, his contract situation severely weakens their bargaining position. The player also turned down an £80,000 a week contract in January and is unwilling to commit his future to the club.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who has tried to keep his interest in the winger and other summer targets under wraps, had hoped that he wouldn’t be dragged into a bidding war over Young. Ferguson has earmarked the England international as a key target as he looks to add quality to his squad ready for next season.
Nevertheless, the United boss may be forced to show his hand before he would have ideally liked, and try to do a deal with Villa Chief Executive Paul Faulkner before the summer transfer window opens, so as not to get involved into a war with their North West rivals. However, it may well be in Villa’s best interests to open a bidding war for the players services, so as to maximise the price they may assimilate.
Other targets at Anfield include the Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill, Blackpool’s Charlie Adam – who was the subject of a failed bid during the January transfer window – and Wolves winger Matt Jarvis, as the club’s board look to completely overhaul the squad.
But for fans of the five-time European champions, it will be the prospect of signing Young, ahead of United, that they will hope will symbolise a change in fortune for a side who haven’t won the league title since 1990.