Young seals Villa switch

Watford striker Ashley Young has sealed his £9.65m (€15m) move to Aston Villa.

Watford striker Ashley Young has sealed his £9.65m (€15m) move to Aston Villa.

Young, 21, “verbally agreed” to join Villa over the weekend and has now signed a four-and-a-half-year contract which will keep him in the midlands until the summer of 2011.

The deal is worth around £30,000 (€45,500) a week plus bonuses for the England Under-21 international who is expected to make his debut in the Barclays Premiership clash with Newcastle at St. James’ Park on January 31.

It is Villa manager Martin O’Neill’s second signing in the space of 24 hours after the arrival of Norway international John Carew from Lyon in a swap deal with Milan Baros.

O’Neill said: “I had been hopeful Ashley would come to Aston Villa after he verbally agreed to join us over the weekend but you never take anything for granted until they sign on the dotted line.

“He has got enormous potential and I think he will fulfil that. He is a really talented player. I have seen a lot of him and I am going to back my judgement.

“My own view is he will prove terrific value. He is only a young fellow and I have no doubt at all he is good enough.

“You think along the lines of ’Will somebody be of value over the next four or five years’ and you base your decision on that. I believe Ashley is capable of great things.”

Young rejected a move to West Ham earlier in the transfer window and Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd admitted seven Premiership clubs were interested in signing the player.

Villa will pay Watford an initial £8million but add-ons for appearances and winning an England cap could make Young the club’s record signing, surpassing the £9.5million paid to River Plate for Juan Pablo Angel in 2001.

Young can play on either flank or up front as O’Neill looks for Villa to convert a higher ratio of their goal-scoring opportunities – their main weakness this season.

He broke into the first team at Vicarage Road in 2003 but really came to prominence when scoring 15 goals for the Hornets last season as they gained promotion to the Premiership via the play-offs.

Young’s arrival means there could now also be a question mark over the future of seven-goal Angel, who started the season in good form but has struggled to make an impact in recent weeks.

Luke Moore is close to fitness after his long-term shoulder problem and would provide O’Neill with another forward option although Chris Sutton is showing little sign of improvement after suffering blurred vision before Christmas.

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