Young, who joined Villa from Watford for Ã‚Â£9.7m in 2007, has 18 months remaining on his current deal at Villa Park but talks over a contract extension stalled in October leading to inevitable speculation over his future.
The England international pulled out of signing the new four-year deal, which would have given him an annual pay rise of Ã‚Â£500,000, at the last minute, but despite interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Houllier insists the 25-year-old is not for sale.
“Ashley won’t go in January,” said Houllier. “We are hoping we can keep him [in the long-term]. The club’s will is to keep him.”
Houiller is no stranger to such contract drama. The former Liverpool manager famously allowed Steve McManaman to leave Anfield under the Bosman ruling and sign a pre-contract agreement with Real Madrid in January 1999. Despite losing out on a transfer fee which could have been worth a potential Ã‚Â£12.5m, Houiller stands by his decision to allow the player to run down his contract.
“It would be brave to hang on to him but I’m brave and I think Mr Lerner is too,” he said. “I think it would be good to keep him.
“Steve McManaman went to Real Madrid, we [Liverpool] decided to keep him, but the offer he got was too big. He was fantastic in that remaining time. Sometimes it pays to hang on to players because you think you will finish in a better position.”
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