Aston Villa Transfer Prospects: The Top 10 Replacements for Ashley Young
It has not exactly been the most positive few months for Aston Villa.
After concluding the 2010/2011 season in a disappointing 13th, Gerard Houllier stepped down from his position as manager and was subsequently replaced by Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish, causing an uproar of protest from a number of fans.
The English international, who is considered one of the most devastating wingers in World Football, was an integral part of Villa's attack, and his departure has left a gaping hole to fill whilst distorting the future for the Villains.
However, Alex McLeish has the luxury of increased funds to spend this summer, and the Scot was fortunate to gain a considerable amount for Young's departure. It will be tough to replace such a figure in Aston Villa's lineup, but there are a number of strong attackers in Europe who can mitigate the loss and restore some positivity for Villa's attacking future.
Whilst another key attacker Stewart Downing is set to depart Villa Park, McLeish has been linked with some promising players, and should certain transfers transpire, then the summer is destined to conclude in strong fashion.
So Bleacher Report provides the top 10 replacements for Ashley Young.
10. Mathieu Valbuena- Olympique De Marseille
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A diminutive yet emphatic winger who has been touted with a move to the English Premier League where many believe the 26-year-old will thrive.
Mathieu Valbuena has emerged as consistent, ferocious presence in the French Ligue 1 with Olympique de Marseille and has also become a regular in the France national side.
Blessed with immense speed and balance, the Frenchman is known for his tenacious attacking play and ability to weave throughout defenders. Valbuena was integral in helping Marseille achieve the French championship in 2009/2010 but endured somewhat of an injury tainted season in 2010/2011.
None the less, the France international was speculated with moves to Liverpool and Arsenal, but Aston Villa could do worse than attempting to materialize a move for Mathieu Valbuena. Destined to cost no more than £12 million.
9. Matt Jarvis- Wolves
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The Englishman Matt Jarvis rose to promise with a fantastic season with Wolverhampton as Mick McCarthy's men maintained their presence in the English Premier League. The 24-year-old amassed 33 appearances and five goals and was rewarded with a debut for the national England team.
An evasive, tough, versatile winger, Jarvis provides a somewhat lacking Wolves attack with genuine pace and threat. Possessing a lethal cross and power to deal with strong defenders, the former Gillingham dynamo is an efficient attacker.
Many predict the Englishman will continue to develop rapidly and become a regular in the England national side. However his future at the Mollineux is still somewhat uncertain with Liverpool previously rumoured with Jarvis.
With Young's departure, McLeish, who is a fan of the winger, has the funds to lure Matt Jarvis to Villa Park.
8. Wesley Verhoek- ADO Den Haag
The Dutchman has been heavily linked with Aston Villa as the ideal replacement for Ashley Young, with McLeish a notable admirer of the winger.
The 24-year-old is a veteran for Dutch outfit ADO Den Haag with over 170 appearances since 2004. A powerful, imposing winger who possesses admirable speed for a tall figure. Equally adept as a striker or on either wing, Verhoek is a useful attacker.
The Dutch winger has ambitions to play in the English Premier League and is unlikely to command more than £10 million ensuring a cheap and effective purchase for McLeish. A threat with and from set pieces, Verhoek can offer a solid amount of attacking tactics due to his height, balance and speed.
7. Jason Puncheon- Southampton
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The Englishman is a promising, underrated prospect who impressed during a loan spell with Blackpool before the Seasiders' eventually accepted relegation. In 11 appearances in the EPL, the 24-year-old secured three goals and conveyed an impressive attacking approach.
Puncheon has returned to Southampton and is currently a strong target for Birmingham City. A fast, composed winger, the former Barnet dynamo has twice made the PFA League One Team of the Year and has the ability to be a clinical finisher.
At 24, Puncheon is a developing prospect who many tout could thrive in the EPL. Furthermore, it is rumoured that Southampton desire as little as £1 million for the Englishman. A price that would ensure a cheap and effective signing who can match the speed and tenacity of Ashley Young.
6. Marc Albrighton
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Aston Villa do possesses a solid amount of depth in their squad, and Marc Albrighton poses as the best internal option to fill the void left by Ashley Young.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign under Gerard Houiller, managing 37 appearances and six goals subsequently emerging as a future England international.
A composed and intelligent winger who thrives on agility and creativity, the youngster has a superb opportunity to cement his place permanently in the Aston Villa starting side and eradicate the departure of Young.
Albrighton is held in the highest regard by the Aston Villa officials and possesses sufficient Premier League experience.
Marc Albrighton will no doubt be one to watch in 2011/2012.
5. Arda Turan- Galatasaray
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The highly rated and much loved Turkish winger is a target for a number of big name clubs throughout Europe after emerging as a quality winger in the Turkish Super League with Galatasaray.
The 24-year-old is renowned for his dynamic dribbling ability alongside his strength and work ethic. An experienced presence, who already boasts 44 national caps for Turkey.
Chelsea are highly interested in the Galatasaray dynamo with the Turkish giants demanding £7 million plus the services Didier Drogba, however, Villa are capable of offering a high sum to tempt the Lions.
4. James Milner- Manchester City
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The Englishman was an emphatic, commanding presence when gracing Aston Villa from 2008 until 2010. Milner acquired the PFA Young Player of the Year during 2009/2010, but his £26 million move to Manchester City has diminished his reputation after a disappointing season.
The 25-year-old failed to establish consistent playing time in a compacted Manchester City midfielder, managing 28 appearances and one goal. Milner has subsequently stated his desire for a potential transfer with Aston Villa now heavily interested in resigning the English international.
A creative, versatile and hard working midfielder who is valued at £14 million, Milner's return would instill some positivity back into the Aston Villa attack and fans.
3. Charles N'Zogbia- Wigan Athletic
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The Frenchman has been a consistent, threatening force in a dismantled Wigan attack for the last two seasons, and his form and ability have had the 24-year-old constantly linked with bigger clubs.
N'Zogbia enjoyed another sterling season and was pivotal as Wigan Athletic narrowly avoided relegation, amassing 38 appearances and 10 goals.
Destined to depart the DW Stadium, Newcastle United and Sunderland are eager to secure his services, but Alex McLeish has stated his intentions to acquire the France international. Quick, evasive and creative, N'Zogbia is versatile and a terrific free-kick taker, two voids left by Young's departure.
The Frenchman is still relatively young and few can imagine what N'Zogbia is capable behind a strong attack. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez desires around £12-15 million for the dynamo.
2. Jesus Navas- Sevilla
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One of the most damaging and creative forwards in the Spanish La Liga, Jesus Navas has long been touted with a move to the EPL where many believe the 25-year-old will thrive. The Spaniard is renowned for his ability to constantly provide assits to his strikers and possesses immense pace and feet.
Pivotal in Spain's 2010 World Cup success, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all shown interest in Nava, but it is evident the Spanish international would be a superb replacement for Ashley Young.
Sevilla are destined to demand a strong amount for their dynamo, but should Stewart Downing complete the alleged move to Liverpool for £18 million, then the transfer is well within Alex McLeish's grasp alongside ensuring funds left over.
1. Eden Hazard- OSC Lille
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The perfect replacement for Ashley Young is the hottest prospect in World Football, the Belgium winger is wanted all around Europe, and it's easy to see why.
A devastating attacker, Hazard is blessed with amazing speed and balance alongside great creativity and a ferocious shot. Boasting over 130 appearances for French giants Lille and 19 Belgium National caps, Hazard ticks every box. Did we mention he's only 20?
Many have likened the Belgium magician to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo due to his explosive style of play. The young gun made his debut for Lille as a 16-year-old and has since won the UNFP Young Player of the Year award twice as well as being named in French League Team of the Year.
Lille are currently top of the French table and Hazard has been integral in the achievement, the Mastifs are well aware of their dynamo's talent, and the attraction the Belgium international is materializing, and it is said the French side are asking for up to £30 million.
Aston Villa may seem like an unlikely destination, but with the necessary funds available, it could just occur.