Spurs step up Young interest

Villa braced for bid with the winger saying he favours a move back south to be nearer his family.

LONDON // Tottenham Hotspur are preparing a £20 million (Dh117m) bid to sign Ashley Young from Aston Villa in the wake of Martin O'Neill's shock resignation as manager. O'Neill quit the club on the eve of the new Premier League season because he fell out with Randy Lerner, the Villa owner, over his policy on selling players.

While it is understood O'Neill was prepared to sell James Milner to Manchester City under certain conditions, he did not want to off-load fellow winger Young. But Spurs have built up the pressure over the past few weeks to land the 25-year-old Young and, now that O'Neill has gone, they are ready to pounce. Young, a winger who is likely to feature for England at some time in tonight's international friendly against Hungary at Wembley, has been valued at around £20m.

Spurs are prepared to part fund the deal by offering either David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas, or both. Such a deal did not meet with O'Neill's approval, but it would suit Spurs. Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, sees both Bentley and Jenas as surplus to requirements. Redknapp would see a formula of a £12m upfront payment and the rest made up with off loading the midfielders as good business while adding Young's explosive pace to his squad ahead of their Premier League campaign and Champions League involvement.

Such a deal would leave Redknapp with more money to buy at least one new player before the start of the season. But Tottenham have to be careful they do not make their bid for Young too complicated especially as Liverpool have expressed an interest in the player in recent weeks. Three years ago Tottenham were favourites to land Young when he left Watford. Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, and the then technical director, Damien Camolli, who has now left the club, stalled over Watford's £9.5m valuation of the player. Watford wanted cash plus Calum Davenport, the defender, in exchange but Spurs dallied, allowing Villa to step in at the last minute.

As a result Spurs could now end up paying more than double for the England international who missed out on the squad for the World Cup in South Africa. And if the deal is subsidised by swapping players Watford, the Championship side, will want clarification of the values. Watford are due 15 per cent of any profit Villa make on the sale of Young over and above his original £9.5m fee. It is believed Young would favour a return south. His younger brother, Kyle, is on the books at Arsenal and his family also live nearby in Stevenage.

However, where Young would play in the Spurs team is a moot point as they appear well stocked with wide players in the shape of Gareth Bale, Niko Kranjcar, Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric and Giovanni Dos Santo In the meantime City hope to force through the purchase of Milner with Stephen Ireland poised to move in the opposite direction to Villa Park. Alan Curbishley, the former West Ham manager, has emerged as the favourite in a long list of candidates to succeed O'Neill. @Email:sports@thenational.ae