The rumor mill has really begun to kick into overdrive these past few days and depending on who you believe, every single Aston Villa player with any value at all is on their way out the door as we speak. Stewart Downing's refusal to sign a new contract right this very second means he's off to Liverpool. The imminent departure of Downing and Ashley Young means the end of Darren Bent in claret and blue. It goes on and on and on like this and it shouldn't be any secret to anyone why it's called silly season.
While I think it's reasonable to say that the vast majority of this talk is utter nonsense, there is of course some legitimately useful information to be found. One must simply ignore the garden variety rumor mongering and be in possession of a finely tuned B.S. detector. If you'd set out upon such a quest today, you'd likely find two rumors currently swirling around the club that seem to have veracity.
Of the two, the one likely to make a bigger splash is the talk of Ashley Young heading to Manchester United. That Young is looking to be on his way out should come as a surprise to no one, but the rumors circulating that he's been in Manchester for a physical and agreed to terms on a contract with the club are something new and if true the suggest that Liverpool and Spurs are out of the running. Aston Villa supporters should hope that this is the case, as no one is going to be well served by yet another summer long transfer saga. It's in the best interest of the club to get Young moved out as soon as possible as they'll most certainly be re-investing much of his transfer fee in the squad and it's better to start shopping now than to wait until August.
A bit more surprising (and seemingly more well-sourced) is the rumor that Brad Friedel will be joining Tottenham Hotspur within the next few days. Friedel is of course out of contract with Villa and the word is that Spurs are willing to offer a second year to what is likely to be the 40 year old's final professional contract, a step Aston Villa were reportedly not willing to take. Friedel is an excellent keeper and his loss would certainly not be welcome, but Villa are clearly looking toward the future at keeper and so it is understandable that they would be reluctant to commit the extra year.
So, for now those would be the two situations to keep an eye on. There's certainly more to develop once the club announces the future of Gerard Houllier and commits to a managerial direction, but for now it's likely that most things are on hold from the club's end of things. Still, a few things going on that could have a fairly huge impact on the team's fortunes next season. And the transfer window hasn't even opened yet.