Will Ashley Young have last laugh at Inter?
Background Image: Wikimedia Commons/Ian Mcallister.
After eight-and-a-half-years, Ashley Young has called it quits at Manchester United. The former Aston Villa man earned supporters in the early-going, though confidence in the jack-of-all-trades player eventually worn thin for the majority.
One thing that cannot be denied is Young's effort for the cause. The now 34-year-old wore his heart on his sleeve and gave absolutely everything he had. It delivered five trophies - including a Premier League title in 2012/13. After playing in practically every outfield position at some point or another, alas, it feels as though Young's Red Devils race was run.
The Aaron Wan-Bissaka signing halted Young's stint as the starting right-back while Brandon Williams' emergence, coupled with Luke Shaw means his minutes over on the left were also as good as over. We all know Young no longer has the on-ball quality to affect the game further up the field, either...
Enter, Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri, fronted by Antonio Conte, have made Young their third signing from United over the last six months. Inter offered the versatile veteran something the Red Devils couldn't; a two-year contract. Understandably, the player was keen to make the move happen this month rather than sitting it out until the summer. A nominal £1.3m fee would be enough to prise Young away from Old Trafford - much to the Red Devils' disappointment. If you believe the tabloids, the ex-captain certainly did his part by walking out on a training session. Sure, United will be happy to get his wages off the books but they'd have unquestionably preferred having Young's experience in the squad rather than the paltry transfer fee that was settled on.
It's a move that does benefit everyone involved, though. United can now offer more minutes to Williams, Diogo Dalot and potentially Timothy Fosu-Mensah, too. They've also cleared a nice £120,000-a-week off the wage bill. Coincidentally, that's what Bruno Fernandes is believed to be set to earn when he seals his Red Devils transfer.
For Inter, they're getting the consummate professional in a position of need. Young isn't going to play every week but he can fill in and do a job when called upon. Conte has held a long-standing interest in the Englishman and I don't doubt that he'll do a solid job in whatever position the Italian manager sees fit.
That said, Young is the unquestionable lottery-winner of this transfer. He waves goodbye to the drab Manchester weather and an outside shot at winning major trophies this term. Instead, he'll wake up to those beautiful Milan views while challenging for a Serie A title. His future will also be secure for the next two seasons, as opposed to the one-year contract United would have probably placed on the table.
Simply put, it was an opportunity too good to turn down. After all, this is Young's career and he has to think about what's best for him and his family. Yes, it would have been nice to keep him around but who knows, the opportunity for the player may well have closed by that point. He had to go. He had to go now and credit to Young who got his wish. I genuinely mean it when I wish him the best of luck out there and I'm sure he'll have great fun.