Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Ashley Young on a free transfer, as the versatile stalwart returns to the club a decade after leaving for Man Utd.
Since leaving in July, 2011, the 35-year-old has gone on to win a string of trophies in England as well as a Serie A title with Inter last season.
Having played a key role for Antonio Conte’s side, Young showed that despite delving further into the latter stages of his playing career, he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
As his time in Italy comes to an end, he has now secured a return to Villa at a time where the club is on the rise once again, and he will undoubtedly have a crucial role to play for Dean Smith.
Young adds experience, winning mentality and versatility
In 190 appearances in his first spell with Villa, Young bagged 37 goals and 59 assists as he was an integral part of that side which showed such quality and promise despite falling short of achieving our ultimate objectives.
Don’t expect Young to add too many to those tallies as his game and position have both evolved and changed since he was last with us, and the expectation will be that he’ll be deployed as a full-back for the most part.
Yes, he turns 36 next month, and his wages have to be sensible and make sense from a Villa perspective. Putting nostalgia and sentiment aside though, the signing is a really clever one and will hopefully prove to be so over time.
From his spells with Man Utd and Inter, Young has gained invaluable experience of what it takes to compete at the top level and to also win trophies. To pass that mentality on to what is still a young squad at Villa will be priceless, and it’s that leadership in difficult moments which will also prove to be very important.
Every dressing room needs it, and we need to replace individuals who offered it to us previously.
Further, his ability to play either side as full-back, and perhaps even in a more advanced role if necessary gives Smith an option in different areas to plug a gap. Villa saw both Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady leave this summer after their respective contracts expired, and so Young will no doubt slot in and offer competition to Matt Targett in particular, and Matty Cash.
Given he’s signed a short-term deal, it’s also unlikely to hamper the progression of the young players at the club looking for opportunities in the first team. Villa need to bring through the likes of Kaine Kesler, and Young will no undoubtedly be able to offer him sound advice moving forward as well as others as they look to improve and catch Smith’s eye.
It’s an important addition to the Villa squad for a number of key reasons as detailed above, and it’s hoped that Young can prove himself again and be an integral player and personality for us next season to help us find the right balance in the squad to achieve our objective of qualifying for Europe.