Aston Villa want £19m for Liverpool target Stewart Downing

Aston Villa have slapped a price tag of £19m on winger Stewart Downing, Press Association Sport understands.

Villa have rejected a second bid - of around £15m - for the England international from Liverpool.

New Villa manager Alex McLeish would like to keep hold of Downing after losing the services of Ashley Young to Manchester United.

But if the player is to leave, Villa will hold out for what they consider to be a fair price for the former Middlesbrough player.

A source close to Villa said: "The club have made it known what they regard as a fair price for Stewart Downing, if he is to be sold."

Liverpool had an initial offer of around £12m turned down for Downing - the price Villa paid for him when he moved from Boro two years ago.

Downing has two years remaining of his contract but made it clear last month that he would not be signing a new deal at this juncture.

He told Press Association Sport: "My agent had a meeting with the club - just one meeting - and he just felt it was the right time not to sign my contract.

"I've still got two years to go, so I've still got a long time to go, so I just decided to leave it as it is.

"Will I be at Villa next season? I'm not sure."

Downing is due to report to pre-season training on Friday with Villa.

He endured an injury-hit first campaign after signing for them when still recovering from a broken foot.

But last season Downing was in outstanding form and was Villa's player of the year.

Meanwhile, McLeish has challenged midfielder Fabian Delph to start living up to his £6million price tag.

Delph was regarded as one of the brightest young prospects in the country when he moved from Leeds to Villa as a 19-year-old two seasons ago.

But he has not established a regular spot at Villa and has also suffered several injury setbacks and is currently recovering from an ankle problem.

McLeish said: "I think it's time for Fabian Delph to show the reason why Villa invested a decent sum of money on a very young player.

"The challenge is there for Fabian. He can certainly tackle as well as pass the ball. He's got that quality.

"He's got a determined attitude and believes in himself."

McLeish will use pre-season - Villa report back on Friday - to determine whether Delph is ready for the Premier League.

He said: "We'll get a good idea in pre-season and will assess him then. I have to assess if he is ready for the Premier League.

"But for him, after his injury problems, to get a full season would be a massive boost to his mental toughness."

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