Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Old Alex Ferguson to Sign Young as he Builds His Final Team at United

Ashley Young's long proposed transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester United has moved one step closer after the England international passed a medical at Old Trafford on Wednesday. The attack minded midfielder is already said to have agreed terms with the Red Devils and it is now only a matter of time before he is officially unveiled as a United player.

The final stumbling block is the protracted negotiations between the two clubs where the issue is more or less closed with only the "i's" to dot and the "t's" to cross before the expected £17 million exchanges hands.

Initially seen as something of a "one trick pony," Young has been primarily used as a winger during his five years at Watford and during the Martin O'Neill regime at Villa. However, upon taking over Gerard Houllier changed the system slightly and moved the 25-year-old inside to much critical acclaim.

This increased level of performance and new found tactical flexibility immediately aroused the interest of some of some of the Premier League's top managers and it was not long before Young was being linked with potential moves to long time admirers Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Gareth Bale's and Rafael van der Vaart's emergence at Spurs meant that Harry Redknapp's interest had dwindled substantially and with Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool registering an interest in the player it only seemed a matter of time before Sir Alex Ferguson became involved in a transfer tug-of-war involving the player.

The Red Devils had already gazumped the Reds to the signature of Phil Jones earlier this month when the Blackburn prodigy agreed upon a £16.5 million deal despite an 11th hour bid to swing the deal back in their favour by Liverpool.

Young's signing is seen by many as the final nail in the career of Luis Nani at Old Trafford. Despite having his best season ever in a red jersey, rumours of his transfer to Inter Milan as part of a swap deal for Wesley Sneijder have been rampant in Portugal since the Champions League final.

The move could also signal the departure of Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian has also just enjoyed his best ever season in at United, top scorer in the Premier League with 21 goals, but it is abundantly clear that Sir Alex Ferguson does not trust the player as he is always dropped for the big games. The latest of these public snubs saw the striker dropped from the match squad completely for the Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona in May.

The arrival of the ex-Watford star will provide Ferguson with added tactical variations in the potential set-up of his team as he is comfortable on either wing and as an advanced attacking midfielder.

The one question mark against Young is his experience. At 25 his knowledge of top level European and international football is limited and in this regard he is something of a large gamble by Ferguson as he continues this transitional period at the club.

A deal has also been put in place for the Spain Under-21 international goalkeeper David de Gea to join from Atl├ętico Madrid although recent rumours suggest that the transfer has hit some kind of snag that either suggests that the deal may not go through before the season starts or that the young replacement for Edwin van der Sar may decide to stay for one more year at Atl├ętico.

If the 'keeper does sign then Ferguson's spending will have already reached £50 million before a cone is even kicked in pre-season training. And when you consider that Darron Gibson should be a Sunderland player by the time the transfer window opens and that central midfield remains a priority, it is not beyond the realms of imagination to see that United could yet become involved in the Chelsea/ Luka Modric/ Spurs transfer saga.

The signings are a clear statement by Manchester United that they are preparing for life beyond Sir Alex Ferguson as the three players are 19, 20 and 25 respectively. With the Scot hitting the big 70 in December it is evident that all three could enjoy at least 10 years at Old Trafford and that Ferguson is beginning to build his final team at the club.