United target Ashley Young to hold out for Old Trafford summer switch
Ashley Young will look to force through a dream move to Manchester United in the summer.
The England forward will resist any attempt by Aston Villa to revive contract talks in a bid to clear the path to Old Trafford.
Young is a long-term target for Sir Alex Ferguson, who views the 25-year-old as a successor to Ryan Giggs and Sportsmail understands Young has already told a number of Villa team-mates that he wants to move to United.
He could cost as little as £10million in the summer after being valued at £25m at the start of the season.
His current deal expires at the end of the next campaign and discussions over fresh terms have hit the buffers. With Villa faced with losing Young for nothing next year, they could have little option but to sell in the summer.
The forward has held a first round of talks with Villa over a four-year deal worth in the region of £70,000 per week, but has since decided he has no intention of signing.
Ferguson has sensed for some time that his United squad may be in need of serious attention and successive defeats by Chelsea and Liverpool have confirmed his worst fears.
Dismayed by the shortcomings of his squad, exposed by non-League Crawley in the FA Cup and Marseille in the Champions League, Ferguson is pursuing potential targets in all areas after being assured he can finally dip into the £80m fee received for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Apart from Young, he has a strong interest in Everton’s Jack Rodwell and is also ready to move for Tottenham duo Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson and a first-choice keeper to replace Edwin van der Sar.
Several players who have fallen below expectations, like midfielders Darron Gibson and Michael Carrick and defender Jonny Evans, look vulnerable to a shake-up while question marks hover over Gabriel Obertan and Bebe.
Ferguson has long admired Rodwell’s composure and versatility as a central midfielder or centre back. He senses Everton may finally be ready to relent over allowing him to follow Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford.
Although Henderson has indicated a willingness to remain at Sunderland, Ferguson is ready to test that by offering him Carrick’s central midfield role. Bale would fill the need for another full back as well as providing pace down the left, while Modric would replicate veteran Paul Scholes’ guile from midfield.
United are confident Scholes will sign for one more year, but Ferguson is still keen to prise Modric from Tottenham and install him as the creative spark missing for much of this season. Young would satisfy the Scot’s need for more width and pace in his squad.
Ferguson will also attempt to recruit a proven, senior keeper in light of Van der Sar’s impending retirement and is still being linked with Schalke’s Manuel Neuer and Inter Milan’s Julio Cesar.
The United manager demands fringe players demonstrate their readiness to grasp a first-team place whenever an opportunity presents itself and has been bitterly disappointed by the way several have fallen short this season.
As an added worry, injury-ravaged former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves may have to accept his United career is over when his contract expires in the summer. There also remain doubts about Michael Owen’s ability to stay fit for any length of time.