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By ESPN Staff
Jan 22, 2007

O'Neill plays down Young price-tag

Martin O'Neill believes he has 'earned the right' to make big-money signings as Watford striker Ashley Young prepares to become Aston Villa's record signing today.

O'Neill will splash out an initial £8million of new owner Randy Lerner's fortune plus another possible £1.65million in add-ons for Young - his largest transaction in more than 15 years as a manager.

Young will complete the second part of his medical on Monday before putting pen to paper on a four and a half year deal worth £30,000 a week which will quadruple his wages.

O'Neill said: 'I have always been pretty careful with money primarily because the clubs I've been involved with have not really had that much.

'It will be the most money I've spent but at my age I've earned the right to do that. Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson can spend and it's alright. Am I supposed to stay down for ever?

'When I went to Celtic in 2000, Mark Viduka was leaving and going to Leeds for £6million and I got the board's backing to take Chris Sutton who was having a difficult time at Chelsea but was a really good player.

'He was phenomenal value for £6million. That was a lot of money for me to spend at the time in 2000.

'If I am spending a couple million more by 2007, maybe it is not as great an amount as you think. Other players have gone for £24million, £27million, £30million so I haven't reached that stage yet.'

O'Neill is delighted that Young will be heading to Villa Park with the 21-year-old expected to make his debut at Newcastle on January 31.

O'Neill said: 'I think 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.

'I have been really impressed with him and his maturity. I have seen Watford loads of time this season. When they see me coming, they probably have been thinking `oh, no, not again!'.

'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's arrival could mean the end of Milan Baros' unproductive spell at Villa and he could move to Lyon - managed by his former Liverpool boss Gerrard Houllier - in a swap deal with striker John Carew.

Baros was booed off the pitch by Villa fans when substituted during the second half of Saturday's home clash with Watford.