Young deal close so what now for Nani?

June 22, 2011 Tags: Reads 40 comments

Ashley Young successfully completed at medical at Bridgewater Hospital today ahead of the Aston Villa winger’s £15 million transfer to Old Trafford. The test, just three miles East of United’s home turf, was the latest formality in a much-anticipated move by the England international. It will likely be officially confirmed when the transfer window opens on 1 July but there is now little doubt that the 25-year-old will join Sir Alex Ferguson’s roster for next season.

But with Antonio Valencia now Ferguson’s preferred choice on the right flank there is an increasing feeling that Portuguese winger Nani’s four-year spell in Manchester has now come to an end. It is an exchange in personnel that does not obviously upgrade United’s squad.

Young, who joined Villa for £9.75 million from Watford in 2007, will more than double is wages to £120,000 per week at Old Trafford after choosing the Premier League champions ahead of a move to Liverpool this summer. Much as Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones had earlier this month. The transfer marks the zenith of rapid progress over the past year for Stevenage-born Young, who has also forced his way in Fabio Capello’s England, scoring against Denmark and Switzerland this season.

No longer a youngster perhaps, but Young’s progress towards Old Trafford was not born of an auspicious start. Initially rejected by Watford as a teenager, the player eventually broke in Ray Lewington’s side during the 2003/4 season, making five appearances from the bench. But it wasn’t until 2005/6 that Young achieved a real breakthrough in professional football, with more than 40 appearances for the Hornets, scoring 14 times and creating 13 in the Championship.

An excellent start the following season in the Premier League increased interest in the player, drawing a £10 million bid from West Ham United during the January transfer window. Young rejected the move before forcing through a transfer to Villa; a sign of the determination to play at a higher level that would be repeated this season.

“I’ve always said that I’m an ambitious person. To play in the biggest competitions, the European Championships, the Champions League, FA Cup finals, League Cup finals, the World Cup, the Euros,” said Young earlier this season, signalling his Villa departure.

“I want to play in them all. Every player would want to win trophies, titles and medals. I’m no different. I’m an ambitious person like any other person who’s in football.”

Young’s improvement are born out in his statistics, which are a touch better than average this season, having scored nine and assisted 15 in a poor Villa side. It’s around par for the course for a player who has achieved a greater level of consistency at Villa Park in a variety of positions. By contrast United’s Nani scored 13 and created 17 in all competitions this season and that comes after the Portuguese lost his place to Valencia in the final weeks of the campaign.

Yet, for all Young’s progress over the past four years with Villa there is an inherent feeling that the player has already reached his peak. Certainly, if players coming to Old Trafford fit two camps – those who will improve United’s first XI, and those whom fans hope will improve to the level of United’s XI – then Young is firmly in the latter. Certainly few fans will buy the argument that Young enhances United’s first team; nor will Europe’s finest be overly concerned at Ferguson’s new addition.

Then there is the question of Young’s place in the United side. After all the player has excelled as a deep-lying striker with Villa over the past year; the position in which Wayne Rooney showed such outstanding form towards the back-end of last season. It points to a place on United’s flank.

However, those closest to the player believe that he will flourish centrally. Capello, for example, left the Villain out of England’s recent draw with Switzerland not for poor form but because “Young is a really good player in a good moment. But I think the position for him to play is not the left or right-wing but just in the centre of the midfield because he can attack the space really good.”

Former club manager Gerrard Houllier made a similar argument earlier in the season, stating that Young can only become “world class” as a shadow striker. “I like himto play in that position to be fair,” said Houllier. “He can be a real specialist. He can be a striker and he can also be a link between the midfield and the attack.”

Unless Ferguson plans to drop Javier Hernández and deploy Rooney as United’s ‘number nine’ once again, then Young will surely compete for a place on Ferguson’s left-wing.

What then of Nani, who seems certain to head to Spain or Italy this summer. Indeed, despite Young’s acquisition it is United’s failed pursuit of Udinese’s Alexis Sánchez – a player the club has watched for three years without making a bid – that offers the clearest indication Nani will end four years at Old Trafford.

After all, rumours of the Portuguese’s dissatisfaction with a contract that has two years to run have become more than a whisper in recent weeks. That United has done little to quell the speculation about the club’s Player of the Year says much.

In that scenario the question becomes whether swapping Young for Nani has improved or degraded Ferguson’s team. Of course, supporters posed the same rhetorical question of Valencia before the Ecuadorian’s £14 million move from Wigan Athletic two years ago. Valencia, who is only six months younger than the Villa forward, has been a huge hit at Old Trafford despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow.

Young will certainly join the Ecuadorian Manchester; time will tell whether he is also a success.

Ashley Young facts

Born 9 July 1985, Stevenage, England

Watford: 110 appearances, 22 goals
Aston Villa: 190, 38
England U21: 10, 1
England: 15, 2

Watford Young Player of the Season: 2004/5
PFA Young Player of the Year: 2008/9



eaton_tre - June 22, 2011 Reply

What about Young as an attacking central midfielder? If he links the midfield and attack so well, I don’t see why we couldn’t deploy a 4-4-2 where Young sits in front of the other center-mid. That’s essentially what Giggs was playing towards the end of the season. Either way, I am glad to have more options within the midfield, and hope we keep Nani, as we all know that as the fixtures pile up we will need fresh legs (lest we again become forced to play the Da Silvas on the wings, not a terrible option, but not ideal).

Ad67 - June 22, 2011 Reply

A good acquisition and gives us more options but in all honesty he couldn’t lace nanis boots when it comes to skill, he may be a better free kick taker but after watching him over the last few years for the villa he really needs to step up to the plate. Nani should stay as Giggs is now on his last legs and we need cover for both wings ,Valencia maybe the preferred choice but people forget up until Valencias return Nani was b far Uniteds most consistent peeformer and lets not forget Valencias abject display against City & Barca on the big stage.

mongoletsi - June 23, 2011 Reply

It’s true, Nani was on fire but then got switched to the left and was less effective.

bigwave - June 22, 2011 Reply

If we have ambition for multiple trophies, we need Nani. Where is our CM???

Richard - June 22, 2011 Reply

Nani’s contract has three years remaining on it, not two. I don’t know why you’re so certain that he’ll be on his way this Summer. Giggs won’t be playing on the wing at all next season and Young can cover three positions so there will be plenty of games for everyone.

Ichiro - June 22, 2011 Reply

I vote to keep Nani, he was our best attacking threat for most of last season. I like Valencia but hes not a player that can pull something magic out of nothing like Nani.

Jim - June 23, 2011 Reply

Ichiro, neither is he a player who will waste chance after chance, so good that Nani has some competition.

timbo - June 23, 2011 Reply

Nani was one of United’s best players last season, and it showed in both his assists record and well as the total amount of goals he scored. He also proved an absolute nightmare to handle for most of the leading left backs he came up against. All this, despite the fact he still is nowhere near the finished article – that’s scary. Yes, he can be frustratingly inconsistent and selfish, but he’s improved markedly in both those areas recently and has a huge upside compared to Young – and Valencia for that matter. Unfortunately Fergie seems to be leaning towards the kind of conservatism in his dotage that was never a part of his makeup during the first two decades of his reign at Old Trafford. At any other major club, especially in Spain or Italy, Nani would be a lock on the right wing for his creativity and skill. But under the pragmatism of Fergie, the percentage play of Valencia has become the preferred option – one can only ponder what could have been accomplished against Barcelona had industry made way for creativity via the likes of Berbatov and Nani, arguably the only two players at United with the kind of magic to compare with that of the Catalan giants.

Nani may well go, but it will be a bad move if so and a sure sign of just how much is being sacrificed at Old Trafford these days under a manager who seems to be increasingly mindful of his own legacy rather than the real needs of the club. Being a workhorse like Park, Fletcher, and Rooney is far more preferential than showing real talent. Europe can at least be thankful that teams like Barcelona place a greater value on the kind of skill, technique and creativity that seems to have become of secondary importance at United these days.

Alfonso Bedoya - June 23, 2011 Reply

Yeah, I’m starting to get that familiar feeling again…
A month ago I was sure we were going to finally do some proper business in the market… spend some real money, buy some real quality, show Scholes some respect, and show that he can’t just be replaced with any old no-mark…
The rumours were coming thick and fast, and we even started to spend… so we were told at least… De Gea, Jones, Young… all in the bag apparently… and that was just the start…
Now though… it seems we are getting conveniently out bid, or rejected, by every top player we were supposedly interested in… convenient that is, for the Glazers.
My question is… were we ever serious about these players in the first place? Or were these just rumours spread, to encourage increasingly cynical fans to renew their season tickets?
My hope is that Fergie has been playing a canny game of misdirection, and that he’s still got one or two surprises yet, to get us excited about next years team… but my gut is telling me that, not only are we done spending… but most of what we HAVE spent, will be paid for with the sales of players like, Gibson, Brown, Berbatov… and Nani…
Another fine bit of business…

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

Spider - June 23, 2011 Reply

I will be livid if we sell Nani. He dragged us through large chunks of the first 2/3rds of the season. I like Young as a player and he’ll if nothing else, improve our dire set pieces, but Nani has got more elements to his game. It’s unfair to suggest Nani is publicly angling for a move though as he’s been on twitter several times saying he’s happy at United. There’s no real need to sell Nani anyway. Obertan should go, Bebe’s gone on loan, Giggs won’t play as a winger much, and Young can play as an attacking midfielder/2nd striker.

sidney - June 23, 2011 Reply

We’ve got to hold onto him at all costs now that we’re perservering with Fletcher, Carrick & Anderson. Him & Giggs are the only midfielders with flair and skill and top draw quality.
And if he goes, then sell him at the right fucking price. If there’s a club out there who want him, let’s make sure they pay a suitably inflated transfer fee.

blob - June 23, 2011 Reply

Nani was an attacking leader last season until injury.

Go to keep him.

Bu I have got to report this somewhere.

Alexis Sanchez deal to Barca off, they can only stump up 22M Euro’s. Talksport reported that Udi accepted 30M from Citeh, they did, only 3M more than United’s bid. Sanchez refused to discuss terms (Daily Mirror) with them and will discuss terms with United. Chile want to play him in Copa America so I hope they see sense and allow him to discuss terms before it, because if he is injured he they won’t be able to sell him for that price.

herbie simms - June 23, 2011 Reply

I hope we are not done spending, but you could be right! All those bullshit comments coming from David Gill that we are going to spend all this money on new signings so we can be as strong as Barcelona is just that, BULLSHIT!

mongoletsi - June 23, 2011 Reply

I hate it when I agree with Herbie :o)

Geno - June 23, 2011 Reply

I don’t think Young’s arrival inevitably means Nani will leave. If we get a mad offer for him (20m pounds plus say) Fergie and Gill can consider it, but I think Young is there to provide some squad depth and competition for the midfield spots.

Having said that, I think this is Glazernomics in action again. I think Young is a decent player and I’m not upset to see him arrive, but I can’t see him being one of the greats. Unfortunately the greats cost 30m euros or better these days and it doesn’t look like Gill and the Glazers are willing to sign a cheque of that magnitude.

Not to change the subject but just how shambolic has the pursuit (or lack of) of a creative central midfielder been? No bids so far for Modric or Sneijder, and while the red tops claim United was in for Sanchez, a lot of internet sources (caveat emptor) are claiming United did not even bid. I’m not particularly gutted about missing out on Sanchez as we’re well stocked on wingers now, but I’m starting to wonder whether there was any plan at all to get a central midfielder.

Ed - June 23, 2011 Reply

Geno – that’s the really big question. If we don’t get a really top class central midfielder this summer it’ll be close to negligent IMHO.

simpson - June 23, 2011 Reply

end of this summer transfer window …nani still be playing for man utd ..he is not leaving

Triggs - June 23, 2011 Reply

I don’t share Ed’s suspicion of Nani leaving. Young is here to replace Bebe and Obertan. He can play as a winger on either side and a second striker. He delivers a good set piece too. Go review his stats compared to Tony V’s prior to signing for United – Young’s are far superior and he’ll only improve surrounded by quality players. A good, if not terribly exciting, signing.

If United signed Sanchez (which in my opinion would be an upgrade on Nani) then Nani probably would be on his way. I think United have maintained an interest in Sanchez but they’re unwilling to be pay the high fee because the real concern this summer is central midfield.

Is this not the right decision? Seems people want to moan here because we’re not serious about signing Sanchez, then at the same time moan that we’re not focusing on central midfield players.

Central midfielders will arrive, just be patient.

captainhormone - June 23, 2011 Reply

i think people are wanting a statement of intent to be made from United….again it looks like we will be saving and making more money this transfer window than actually spending

so much for the 25 million a year hey……ffs

reddread - June 23, 2011 Reply

I quite like Ashley Young, an don’t feel that him arriving will necessarily mean that Nani will be down the road at all. I agree with others who say that he can cover three positions, has a fine free kick, be it delivery or shooting for goal, and will bring something to the team. Having read the growing rumours about Sanchez refusing to get on a plane to talk to City, watch this space, I suppose. If we really have been watching him for three years and not placed a bid, then we have either decided he isn’t worth it, or we can’t afford him. The next few days will give a good picture of our ambition and finances…

Violent Banana - June 23, 2011 Reply

I don’t think Nani will leave unless something incredibly dramatic happens and we somehow land Sanchez as well. I’m assuming Young has been bought predominately to play on the left – but his versatility gives us options. I also think his pace and movement, along with Rooney’s, Nani’s and Chico’s, will give us a constant counter attacking threat.

I’d agree with the general sentiment on here though – I would have assumed the key areas to address in the summer were the goalkeeping and central midfield positions. And so far, we’ve spent £33m on neither.

Ashish - June 23, 2011 Reply

If Nani leaves,then the United board will have made an even bigger blunder than signing Bebe.

As good as Ashley Young is,he cannot compete against the likes of Nani and Valencia for a starting spot because those 2 are head and shoulders above Young.

It can even be argued that Ji Sung Park is more effective.

reddread - June 23, 2011 Reply

I think we need to give Young a chance. He’s been very effective at Villa, providing assists for players like Carew and Bent, who are not in the same class as Rooney and Hernandez. Similarly, Rooney, should he drop deep during a game, will now have genuine pace too look for on either side or through the middle in addition to the threat of Hernandez (yes, of course I know Mani and Tony offer this, too). I know he’s not a marquee signing, but at the same time I think he’ll open a lot of United fans’ eyes next season as to just how good he can be.

Or he might be shit, of course. Time will tell…

captainhormone - June 23, 2011 Reply

he will be a worthy addition J….I agree with you about the pace our attack will now have too…..i’m quite excited about this, but not at the cost of losing Nani though…even though he frustrates he is still great

a Nani/young on the wings combo at the top of their game, excites me more than a Young/Valencia combination….

Bill - June 23, 2011 Reply

Will be interesting to see what he does with Young and Jones in terms of rotation. To have Young cover Bebe/Obertans games makes some sense, but that would only be about 10 starts and 10 subs apps. He fits the united transfer policy in that he young, English and at a reduced price, but unless he or Rooney are going to play CM then it hard to see where else he plays.

triggs - June 23, 2011 Reply

I think he’ll also play a lot on the left in place of Park – particularly at home.

I expect Park to play less and, when he does, more centrally next year.

mongoletsi - June 23, 2011 Reply

Can I just remind everybody that we went “hrm, he’s okay I guess” about Tony V? Look how that turned out…

Ashish - June 23, 2011 Reply

Thats true but we must also not forget that Tony V didn’t have Ronaldo in the same team,with whom he had to compete against.

When Tony V signed for us…the only player who could compete with him was Nani and at that time Nani was quite inconsistent.

Ashley Young will have to compete against the likes of Nani,Valencia and maybe Park and this is at a time when Nani and Tony V have established themselves in the first team.

I maybe wrong and Young could outperform both of them…..but I just don’t see that happening.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - June 23, 2011 Reply

well it turned out to be an xfactorless generic winger who needs to be replaced and bottled the biggest game of his life

shauno - June 23, 2011 Reply

Nani, wont be sold this summer. I’m fairly neutral on the signing of Young. He’s ok I suppose. May play better surrounded by ‘world class’ players. But our current squad is getting thinner when it comes to ‘world class’ players. Defensively it’s looking great and if we get De Gea then perfect. Infact possibly the best suite of defenders in any squad in the world. After that we have Rooney and Nani and some good Premier league players. That’s it really you can analyse it all you want it’s an average midfield which will not close the gap on Barca. If winning UCL is our priority, which it should be then it’s not looking likely without a flukey result or two. It would be a huge shame if we didn’t get a couple of midfielders. That suite of defenders with the twins gives us the option to attack from back to front and shut up shop whenever we want. Could be devastating but the middle bit of the spine is missing. Still time to buy but who?

dozer - June 23, 2011 Reply

Commenter said:
Thats true but we must also not forget that Tony V didn’t have Ronaldo in the same team,with whom he had to compete against.

When Tony V signed for us…the only player who could compete with him was Nani and at that time Nani was quite inconsistent.

Ashley Young will have to compete against the likes of Nani,Valencia and maybe Park and this is at a time when Nani and Tony V have established themselves in the first team.

I maybe wrong and Young could outperform both of them…..but I just don’t see that happening.

If he’s playing on the left wing he will. I hope Young plays on the left, he was the one who scared me when he had the ball when we played Villa.

Yang - June 23, 2011 Reply

Team need 4 wide men to compete 4 fronts at once. Utd have been played almost more than 50 games per season which is double amount of most mid table team.

Giggs will retire sooner rather than later so team plan ahead for foreseen departure of team legend.

There is really no need Nani leaving and what is more important thing for Nani is improving his finishing not moving somewhere else.

herbie simms - June 24, 2011 Reply

What I’m reading into is we are going to change our style of football and SAF is looking for certain players that can work in his new plan. Its the style of football that we play that has to change. Pay close attention to our pre-season games to pick up what I’m talking about. Nani and Berbatov need to stay. Berbatov looked terrible at times because our midfield failed to supply him the service. If Berbatov was to get the proper service, he could get you 30 plus goals. I do believe there is one big signing coming in but Im not sure if it will be a midfielder or a striker. There are so many rumours that Berbatov and Nani could be on the way out but I don’t believe that just yet.

mongoletsi - June 24, 2011 Reply

Yeah but if we don’t bring in a top class CM then we’re in the shit. It may not be SAF’s fault though – finances are preventing us competing at the very top… thanks to Malcolm!

JEZZER - June 24, 2011 Reply

Total conjecture but…. What chance that Young is a piece in the jigsaw that allows Nani to go to Inter and Sneijder to come our way?

stainingred - June 24, 2011 Reply

Anybody thinking the glazers will spend money while not recouping it by whatever way is lving in cloud cuckoo land. Nani is a class player who will b sold to pay for jones/Young and maybe 1/2 more. We will always be screwed by the Yanks !

MrKirie - June 24, 2011 Reply

The sale of Nani would generate less revenue than being successful in Europe/domestically. Wouldn’t make sense to sell one of our best players unless the offer is silly money.

ltel - June 24, 2011 Reply

Commenter said:
Team need 4 wide men to compete 4 fronts at once. Utd have been played almost more than 50 games per season which is double amount of most mid table team.

Giggs will retire sooner rather than later so team plan ahead for foreseen departure of team legend.

There is really no need Nani leaving and what is more important thing for Nani is improving his finishing not moving somewhere else.

back to maths class for you!!!

uncleknobheadforfucksake - June 24, 2011 Reply

well tehn we’ve sold our only good winger in order to sign a player who plays rooneys position but not as good

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