Ashley Young officially signed with Manchester United yesterday, making him the second signing of the summer in a five year deal worth around 15 million pounds. United’s spending has now reached over 30 million pounds after already signing Phil Jones from Blackburn.
To be honest, when I first heard about United being linked with Young, I wasn’t the biggest proponent of it. I wasn’t sure where he was going to fit on United’s squad after already having wingers Nani and Antonio Valencia. Many have speculated that signing Young would make Nani expendable. However, I realize that having Young will be ideal for replacing Ryan Giggs and Ji Sung Park in left midfield.
Having Ashley Young will be very important as he’s naturally skilled to play from the left. Nani and Valencia will keep their positions on the wings while Young can be slotted in as an attacking midfielder from the left. He would essentially play in Rooney’s position as the English striker has been often known to lie back towards midfield in order to get the ball more. The addition of Young will allow Rooney to stay up front more often with Hernandez. Also, if Rooney is injured, Young can replace him as a second striker which is a familiar role for him at Aston Villa. Young is versatile enough where he could act as an additional striker coming in from both the wings and the center of midfield.
Young is also vital because of his creativity and his skill as a dead ball specialist. When United are in desperate need for some magic, Young can come in with a deadly cross or a long range goal. Young is also a free kick specialist especially in terms of crosses which is something United have consistently lacked. Besides Rooney, United lacks penalty kick takers which is a void that can be filled by Ashley Young.
Considering he’s entering the prime of his career, Young has proven he can rack up goals and assists. Young has scored 7 or more goals in 3 out of the last 4 seasons and 7 or more assists every year (He had 17 assists in his breakout year in 2007-2008). Manchester United has much more skilled players for Young to play with than Aston Villa and it could likely result in his numbers rising. Judging by his form of late for both Aston Villa and England, Young looks ready to immediately fit in and become an integral figure.
Another reason why Young is so valuable is because two of United’s stalwarts’ time at Old Trafford may be coming to an end soon. One is Ryan Giggs who will most likely be entering his final season after two decades of magnificent service. The other player whose time may be ending is Ji Sung Park whose contract will end after this season. The South Korean now at the age of thirty may be unable to maintain his kinetic style for much longer. He even recently stated,” I won’t be able to show my best after one or two years. I don’t know how long I can stay at Manchester,” “I never thought about retirement but it’s obvious that I don’t have much time left as a player.” “According to circumstances, I might leave Manchester United and retire in another team,”
Losing Park and Giggs who often operate from the left side of the pitch will be a huge loss. However, in Young, United is getting an adaptable play-maker who can satisfy the pressing needs of creativity and consistency. Young’s transfer at 15 million is an absolute steal compared to the price tags of other wingers like Alexis Sanchez, Gareth Bale, or Eden Hazard.
Sir Alex is out on a mission right now to fill in holes on United’s roster this summer. Ashley Young is playing the best football of his career and at the age of 25, he can get even better under United’s system. Ashley Young can be eased into the roster as an eventual replacement for Giggs and Park on the left. In my mind, Young is going to become an important member of the team for both the present and the future.