EXCLUSIVE: McLeish wants Real Madrid starlet to replace Young (PLUS video)
Published 23:01 28/06/11 By Alan Nixon
New Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish wants Real Madrid starlet Sergio Canales to be his first big signing - and fill Ashley Young's shoes.
McLeish has approached the Spanish giants and wants to tie up a season-long loan deal for the talented attacking midfielder, who he hopes will light up his side.
The Villa chief has moved ahead of Everton, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid in the chase for Canales, who joined Real from Racing Santander a year ago only to be left in the cold by Jose Mourinho.
Real do not want Canales - the star of Spain's Under-20 side - to go to Villarreal or Atletico, and while Everton's interest depends on them raising funds, Villa's approach is straightforward.
The fact that McLeish wants Canales on loan, giving him first-team football at a high standard, is ideal for the Real heirarchy, who still see the youngster being a player for them once Mourinho moves on.
Canales is one of the most popular players among Real's young supporters because of his style and looks.
He would be a massive capture for McLeish, who is having to juggle his squad without spending massive sums.
The Scot may have to sell again to buy players, so the chance to take Canales - who can play in several positions and would make up for the loss of Young to Manchester United - on a wages-only deal is a no-brainer for him.
The Villa chief is prepared to fly to Madrid as soon as possible for a face-to-face meeting with Canales to talk him into the transfer.
He wants the move tied up before the Real starlet goes to the Under-20 World Cup finals, which begin in Colombia at the end of July.
Villa fans! Here's some video of Canales in action. Could he be the new Lee Hendrie?