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Ashley Young deserves more praise for his Manchester United career

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Nine Years of Service

Ashley Young looks set to leave Manchester United after reportedly turning down a new deal with the club to pursue a career in Italy with Inter Milan, and it's about time he got the credit he deserves.

Back in July 2011, Young was a winger and not a full-back, a fully fledged England international, and a 25-year-old about to get his dream move to the champions of England. The former Watford star became one of the Premier League's brightest young talents with Aston Villa, and by the time United signed him for just £17m, his name was already well established.

Sir Alex Ferguson made a very healthy habit of signing bright, young, English talent and turning them into not just champions, but elite players. Young was no different. As he joined the ranks at United, he was instantly thrown into an astonishingly competitive title race, and although the Red Devils came up short, the winger provided 11 assists and bagged six goals that year, proving to be a steal for his cheap price tag.

One more year under Ferguson would see him lift the league title, before he began to play more of a sporadic role under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. However, with the arrival of Jose Mourinho, Young would entirely change his game and end up becoming vital for both club and country, six years after signing.

Now, after nine seasons of service, the 34-year-old has shown to be a memorable, vital signing United.

Give The Man His Credit

When Ferguson departed, the superstar signings began to dry up and many big names like Patrice Evra, Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic decided to call it a day. Some figures like Robin Van Persie were slightly past their expiry date and were forced out, whilst others simply saw greener grass elsewhere as the club began to implode.

However, Young stuck around and fought for his position, even though he would make just 76 Premier League appearances over the next four years. As a variety of managers began utilising him each in a different way, the Englishman rarely looked at another club, despite such a lack of game time for a man who was in his peak years.

Not many star players would settle for second fiddle, especially at his age. But Young did, and not just did he stay, he worked tirelessly to change his game for the better of the club. Eventually, the former Villa man would pick up the armband, and when all considered, it was fully deserved.

A New Life Under Mourinho Proved His Worth

Young's debut season at United was perhaps his best, as he played a crucial role in United's title fight until the end in 2012. Although, there is certainly an argument for the season of 2017/18 being his best and most important.

As his legs began to slow down and his wisdom continued to blossom, Young would find a new lease of life under the guidance of Mourinho as a full-back. The injuries to Luke Shaw and his lack of opportunities as a winger saw him earn 30 league appearances in 2017/18 and work his way back into the England squad.

Young would surprise us all with his defensive capabilities and his consistency in a position he had rarely played before. Eventually, the Stevenage-born would become a regular with his country again and even play a crucial role in England's famous 2018 World Cup run.

In his early 30s, when his career had seemingly fell apart, Young revitalised himself and earned a few more years at the club and once again proved to be a bargain.

You'll Miss Him When He's Gone

There are not many players who can boast of such longevity in England's top-flight and an illustrious CV to match. Young has been a professional in English football since 2003 and has been a Premier League mainstay since 2006, as he helped guide Watford from the Championship.

After spending 14 years in the Premier League, he has earned himself a place in an elite category, that every youngster dreams of being in. Now, with a Premier League title, FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup to his name, Young has earned himself a special status in English football and at United.

After all, for just £17m, it has been one almighty signing and it's time fans started to appreciate him for his efforts down the years.