Meet the new men
It is July 2011 and Manchester United Football Club have been busy. The transfer window has barely opened and the Old Trafford outfit have already made three signings, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea. Many column inches in newspapers have been given over to the speculation and confirmation surrounding these signings, yet how much do you really know about Manchester United’s new boys.
Well, Red Army is here to help as we delve into the past, and fantastic futures, of these young men:
The former Blackburn starlet was the first to join Manchester United this summer, putting pen to paper on 13th June for a fee reported to be around £17 million. Jones’ favourite position is in central defence, although he has been known to fill in at right back or in a defensive midfield position on occasion. The 19 year old made his professional football debut two seasons ago starting in a League Cup game versus Nottingham Forest and went on to make 40 assured appearances for Blackburn. It was not just Sir Alex Ferguson who saw potential in the youngster as he was made captain for one of the England under 21’s games this summer, where he was also partnered alongside another Manchester United starlet in Chris Smalling. It was widely reported that Kenny Dalglish was also sniffing around the young defender, before losing out to the Red Devils. Jones is good on the ball and his tough tackling is sure to impress United’s fans; his no nonsense defending could turn him into a fan favourite. Wayne Rooney stated that “Phil Jones is a good young English player, [one] of the toughest defenders I played against last season” before he even signed for Manchester United. At just 19 years of age Jones has potentially another 15 years at the top and Sir Alex will be hoping that his impressive partnership with Chris Smalling at Under 21 level will soon reap rewards at club level too as Manchester United are looking to solidify their future as well as their present.
Young has received many plaudits this season for his performances for Aston Villa and England and he has proved to be adaptable too, moving from his favoured position on the wing to a more central position behind a striker and it is here that he has found his form with both goals and assists. Young is the oldest of Manchester United’s signings so far, but at 25 years old he will just be coming into his prime as a midfielder. Again, Manchester United had to part with roughly £17 million to get their man but it should be seen as a solid investment. The former Aston Villa and Watford star has an impressive record on the pitch too. He has averaged 36 Premier League games a season for the last 4 seasons and has provided 30 dead ball assists since joining Aston Villa. He chips in with the goals too, scoring between 8 and 10 goals a season for Aston Villa in the last four years and is a proficient penalty taker, scoring four out of five penalties taken this season, giving him the same record as Wayne Rooney. It seems that Ferguson has looked past the criticism of Ashley Young and seen a fast, strong winger with an eye for goal and a mean set piece. Alongside his Aston Villa form Ashley Young has also come good for England, scoring his first and second goals for the Three Lions in 2011 and taking his England appearances to 15. At first many thought that Young was the cheaper knock-off version of Alexis Sanchez, but the stats beg to differ. Only time will tell if Ashley Young can raise his game at Manchester United as cement himself a place in United folklore.
David De Gea
Manchester United’s latest signing, 20 year old David De Gea put pen to paper on a five year contract. De Gea became the second most expensive goalkeeper in the world when Ferguson forked out £18.3 million for him, only Buffon has commanded more of an outlay. But it seems to be worth it for Ferguson, who sees De Gea (pronounced DE HEYA or DE HOOYAA depending on who you believe) as the perfect replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar. Despite his young age, the Spaniard has already made 84 appearances for his old club Altletico Madrid, winning the Europa League with the Spanish club even playing in the final as Atletico Madrid beat Fulham 2-1 in 2010. He also recently helped Spain win the Under 21 European Championships. De Gea could follow Van Der Sar in having 20 years of top level football ahead of him, making the £18 million seem like a bargain. There are some stumbling blocks in the short term however as De Gea cannot speak much English and questions may be asked about his ability to communicate with the United back four. 20 years old is a young age for a goalkeeper too any many goalkeepers who were labelled ‘world class’ at this age have fallen from grace, Chris Kirkland and Scott Carson to name but two. But for now De Gea looks set to fill the number one shirt at Old Trafford and, with a little patience, he is sure to replicate the fantastic form that has seen him win major competitions already.
Written by Nathaniel Hobby
For more Manchester United news and opinion you can follow me on Twitter @nathanielhobby