This week Ashley Young finalised a move to Premier League champions Manchester United in a deal worth in the region of £17 million and a weekly salary of a colossal £130,000. Ashley Young is highly rated and was considered the star at Aston Villa before his switch, but is Ashley Young overrated and a victim of the ‘hype machine’ that exists for exciting young English talent? In this article I will argue that, despite his impressive talent, Ashley Young is overrated and not an upgrade on the exciting Nani and the returning Antonio Valencia.
Ashley Young burst onto the Premier League scene with Watford in 2006 and had an impressive season which earned him a move to Aston Villa for a reported £8 million fee. Many thought this was overpriced for the young winger at the time, but Young paid back this trust with a large number of goals and assists for his new club nearly firing them into the Champions League in 2009 only to be overtaken by Arsenal late into the season. Ashley Young has matured into a very competent winger who is equally adept at playing on either wing which will serve him well at Old Trafford if he is to successful oust either Valencia or Nani from the starting line ups.
Whilst I believe that £17 million and weekly wages of £130,000 is ridiculously excessive for a player like Ashley Young one can’t doubt his durability, his strength and his experience of playing in the Premier League week in and week out. Over the last 4 seasons Young’s league appearances have been very impressive, with 37 league starts in 2007/8, 36 league starts in 2008/9, 37 league starts in 2009/10 and 34 league starts in 2010/11. These remarkable stats show that Ashley Young has only missed 8 league games in 4 years and has averaged 36 league games a season over that time. His injury record is thus very attractive to Manchester United who will know that Young isn’t likely to be in the treatment room all season like the rather unfortunate Owen Hargreaves.
Nigel Reo-Coker was gushing with his praise for the winger this week when asked about what Ashley Young could offer a team such as Manchester United, saying:
“I’m sure Ashley can live up to expectations and deliver for the United fans, who will love him.
People have said United are lacking a bit of flair and creativity, since Ronaldo left.
I think that is something he will definitely add to Manchester United.
He has great vision and I am sure he will create a lot of goals for them, as well as scoring himself.”
I would agree with Reo-Coker to an extent, Ashley Young on form can be a genuinely exciting player to watch yet far too often I feel he flatters to deceive. In the league last season Young created 10 assists and scored 7 goals himself whilst taking the penalties. The season before Young assisted 7 goals and scored 5 himself. If we compare this to the much maligned Andrei Arshavin at Arsenal we see that these stats aren’t all that impressive for a player on a reported £130,000 a week. Arshavin only started 25 games in the Premier League in comparison to Young’s 34 games yet he still managed to create 11 assists and score 6 goals.
All in all I feel Ashley Young is a decent squad player at a club like Manchester United and will probably enjoy a decent level of success there, yet some of the hyperbole surrounding his signing is verging on the insane with comparisons to the ultra-effective Ronaldo completely unjustified. Whether Young enjoys a successful career at Old Trafford remains to be seen, but one feels he doesn’t justify the fee or wages currently on offer.
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