Aston Villa: Xherdan Shaqiri to Replace Ashley Young or Stewart Downing?

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Aston Villa: Xherdan Shaqiri to Replace Ashley Young or Stewart Downing?
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Xherdan Shaqiri: The Man to Replace Ashley Young?

Aston Villa are resigned to losing £16 million-rated Ashley Young, especially after his performance for England at Wembley against Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Manchester United and Liverpool are favourites to sign the 25-year-old, while Stewart Downing could also leave Villa Park after reiterating his desire to play UEFA Champions League football.

Both are very in-demand by the top Premier League clubs who have big money to spend, with their creativity, crossing ability, and overall quality vital to the Villa cause this season.

Therefore, as both look set to leave the West Midlands club, it seems owner Randy Lerner will have to dig deep into his pocket to secure the perfect replacement.

And such a replacement could be found in FC Basel winger and Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri, the 19-year-old who has already won 12 caps for his country and played over 60 first-team matches for his club.

Said to have been on Aston Villa's radar for the past four months, Shaqiri has been impressing scouts all across Europe with his sheer quality.

A diminutive yet explosive player, Shaqiri has the pace and power required to be a success in the Premier League, having proved his ability to bully full-backs by sprinting past them and shrugging off their challenges.

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With the ability to play on the right or left, he's also a very versatile footballer, and is able to play as a second striker or trequartista, due to his highly accurate short-range passing, or even as a wing-back due to his acceleration and upper body strength.

And for an Aston Villa team which likes to positionally inter-link a playmaker like Young with wingers like Downing and Marc Albrighton, such adept versatility from Shaqiri means he'd fit right in with the Villans.

He also has a high tactical awareness, drifting into various positions to open up defences and send a teammate through on goal, being something of a dream player for any coach.

An almost complete attacking player, Shaqiri also has a very accurate shot from long distance, something which could come in handy for a Villa side who have lacked goals this season.

Overall, Xherdan Shaqiri could well be the perfect replacement for the probably outgoing Ashley Young and/or Stewart Downing.

An exciting young talent, Shaqiri's signing would again bolster Villa's reputation as a club full of future superstars with the likes of Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Ciaran Clark.

And considering the wealth, reputation and infrastructure around Aston Villa, luring Shaqiri to Villa Park is very much a possibility.

However, with Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio, Fiorentina and Juventus also reportedly keen on the Swiss star's signature, it's by no means a certainty the player will move to the Midlands no matter how much Villa offer.

An inflation-adjusted fee of £10 million could be enough to sign Shaqiri, and if Villa do decide to make a bid for the starlet, he could well be the man to fill void left by Young and Downing. 

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