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Gérard Houllier has admitted that there are no guarantees Aston Villa will be able to hold on to Ashley Young next month, although he has warned that potential suitors such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Villa’s Boxing Day opponents, Tottenham, will have to part with “crazy money” if they want to sign his marquee player.

Last month Houllier was adamant that Young, 25, who has only 18 months left on his contract, would stay. He said: “There is no way he is going in January – unless they buy the club. You say Martin O’Neill [valued him at] £80 million? Maybe more.”

With Villa four points above the relegation zone, it would be a dreadful time to lose Young, their stand-in captain. But the only assurance Houllier would offer is that the club would consider keeping him to his contract.

“We hope [we can keep him]. The club’s will is to keep him. He told us very clearly that he wants to end the season with us. We [could] keep him until the end of his contract. With him we would finish in a better position.

“If someone comes with crazy money, yeah,” Houllier said. “But I don’t think he will leave in January.”

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