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By ESPN Staff
Jan 21, 2007

Young will come of age at Villa - O'Neill

Martin O'Neill is convinced Ashley Young can fulfil his potential at Aston Villa when he completes a £9.65million transfer from Watford on Monday.

Young will formally complete the second part of his medical on Monday - with no problems envisaged - and he will sign a four-and-a-half-year contract worth around £30,000 a week which will more than quadruple his wages.

The England under-21 player, who rejected a move to West Ham, has been tracked by O'Neill for most of the season.

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

He is expected to make his debut in Villa's Barclays Premiership clash with Newcastle at St James' Park on January 31.

Villa boss O'Neill said: 'Is it a risk? Not to me. Last week we were accused of not buying anyone. I can't win!

'He is a very talented player and I would think he will prove his worth.

'He can play on both flanks and he can play alongside the centre-forward. I think he is an exciting player and he has got a great touch, great control, a wee bit of pace.

'I am excited. I think he is an excellent player and has great potential and I think he will realise that potential in his career.

'Will his signing send out a positive message? It wasn't the idea but that follows naturally. It will send out a positive message but I want to try to build a decent side here, a side that is going to compete.'

Villa skipper Gareth Barry said: 'Any player coming in January is a big boost, especially a big-name signing like Ashley Young who has had a good season so far.

'He will certainly improve us. I've only played the once against him - this season at Vicarage Road. But I've seen him play for the under-21s and he is very lively player and he will be a good addition to the team.

'It's a lift and will give us competition. It is not just Ashley we want to bring in. We want to bring in other quality players as well because they are needed at the moment.'

Watford boss Adrian Boothroyd believes Young will make further progress at Villa.

He said: 'He has done remarkably well considering the amount of attention he has had and he will kick on again at the club he is going to. I think he is a real asset.

'I can't speak highly enough about him. I think he is going to be a real asset and I think if he develops as I expect him to, they might struggle to keep hold of him as well.

'He can cope with the expectation levels. He is a very strong kid, very disciplined, the ultimate professional and he is going to have a very good career. He might even be a bargain.'

Young has also been linked with a move to Tottenham but Hornets midfielder Gavin Mahon feels signing for Villa is ideal for the 21-year-old at this stage of his career.

He said: 'It will be a good move for him. Everyone knows he spoke to West Ham. I think with Ashley he is a young lad and he wants to play football and a manager like Martin O'Neill is going to play youngsters.

'You ask any player who has played under Martin O'Neill and they all have a lot of respect for him and they enjoy their time. That's why I thought if he did go to Villa, it would be a good move for him.

'If he goes to another club like Tottenham, he might not play every week. He can play on the wings as well and Tottenham have wide men like Lennon and Routledge and people like that.

'At Villa he is going to get the chance because Martin will put the youngsters in and he is not afraid of that and I think it is a massive club.'