Aston Villa will have to defy Premier League betting odds of 12/1 to be relegated if they want any chance of retaining the services of Ashley Young next season.
The England winger is out of contract at the end of next season and despite Villa boss Gerard Houllier handing him the club captaincy and placing him on penalty duties, he is yet to make a suggestion that he will sign a new deal.
Young has stated to this point that he will make a decision regarding his future in the summer and he will certainly leave if Villa drop out of the Premier League.
Villa are currently two points above the relegation places with nine Premier League games remaining and will be keen to string together a run of results to begin to climb the standings.
There should be enough quality within the Villa ranks to beat the drop and then Houllier will have to work on his next task of encouraging Young to stay.
However, this may be a fight that he will lose, particularly as a number of top Premier League and European clubs begin to circle as the prospect of a cut-price deal emerges.
Villa will be reluctant to let Young allow his contract to run down and leave for nothing upon its expiry, especially after the recent financial release detailing their losses in the past seasons.
Therefore, if Houllier is unable to persuade Young to stay, he will have to admit defeat and sell him in the summer.
Villa would have demanded around £25m for Young last season, but this figure is surely to at least be halved with just 12 months of a contract remaining.
A dream move for Young would be to Manchester United, where he would battle with the likes of Nani and Antonio Valencia for a wide berth.
Another option is Bayern Munich, who are also said to be interested, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has previously stated his admiration for the winger.
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