by Teo Teng Kiat
Following the signing of Phil Jones two weeks ago, United have landed winger Ashley Young from Aston Villa as their second signing this pre-season, for a reported fee of £16-20million. The England international, who turns 26 in a couple of weeks’ time, has formally inked a five-year contract at Old Trafford, in a transfer deal that had allegedly been concluded a few weeks ago.
The winger weighed in with 9 goals and 13 assists for Villa last season, and was one of the few bright sparks for the club. In the past five seasons, only Fabregas has provided more assists than Young in the English league. His profile has steadily risen as he put in a series of sparkling displays for both club and country, where he has generally been deployed on the left wing, and Liverpool were supposedly chasing his signature too, before United beat them to it.
I feel that Young will turn out to be a good acquisition for us, as he gives us good depth in the wing areas, where we looked short on quality when Valencia and Park were both injured during the first half of last season. If it wasn’t for Nani’s sensational form, United would have been struggling. Also, another English signing will help United to fulfil the homegrown player quota as mandated by UEFA in European competitions.
Although right-footed, Young is arguably more comfortable than Nani on the left, and I see Ferguson using him there. At Villa, he often used to cut in from the left and drop into the second striker role as well, so there is another alternative to Rooney when we need it as well. Additionally, Young is a set-piece specialist, comfortable at both corners and freekicks, which United have looked very poor at last season. All four wingers will be kept on their toes with the competition for the two wing slots, which will hopefully spur them to produce good performances.
However, I have to admit that IF Young is to be our marquee signing, I would feel a little disappointed. I believe that the midfield area is the one that needs the most strengthening, with the departure of Scholes and Hargreaves leaving us short on quality. Gibson is a decent player, but not world-class material, and unless Anderson steps up and suddenly realises his potential, the club could regret it if we choose not to sign a midfielder by the end of the transfer window.
David Gill had promised at least three new signings at the end of last season, and with the third one highly tipped to be that of David De Gea from Atletico Madrid, especially now that the Euro-U21s Championship is over, is there still enough in the bank for further signings? Modric, Sneijder and Sanchez have constantly been linked with United, while it has been suggested that Defour is a backup option.
As supporters, we can only put our trust in the management that the right players are signed, and give our full support to the team no matter what happens. Meanwhile, United extends a warm welcome to Ashley Young, who will hopefully raise his game to the next level when he turns out for the world’s biggest club on the hallowed grass at the Theatre of Dreams.
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