Slaven Bilic may well end up paying the price for West Ham’s questionable recruitment last summer. The Hammers aimed to be ambitious in the transfer window as they welcomed European football to a new stadium, but quantity soon took priority over quality and cheaper talent from abroad was preferred to stars already proven in the Premier League.
Regardless of whether Bilic is still in the dugout by the time the coming transfer window officially opens, it’s likely West Ham will have learned from their mistakes, instead focusing on players who can improve the starting XI rather than the squad and those who’ll arrive with well-established Premier League credentials.
Thus, I turn your attentions to Manchester United’s Ashley Young. In a world where the record transfer fee stands at £90million, a soon-to-be 32-year-old winger who has made only eight Premier League starts this season and is valued by Transfermarkt at just £5.95million might seem a little underwhelming.
Indeed, Young is by no means the player that arrived at Old Trafford in 2011 after four-and-a-half affluent seasons at Aston Villa, but he’s still got plenty to offer a top-seven aiming club like West Ham, not least including the experience of nearly 300 Premier League appearances, 30 England caps and top flight, FA Cup and League Cup title wins.
The last few years have seen Young transform into a different kind of footballer; less concerned with marauding runs and theatrics in the box and more focused on being a true team player, working hard and filling a variety of positions in both defence and midfield – he’s featured as a winger, a full-back and a wing-back on both flanks already this season.
But he still has that natural pedigree which once made him the PFA Young Player of the Year, namely that lethal left-footed delivery from out wide – something that would unquestionably benefit the aerial menace of Andy Carroll at the London Stadium – and the ability to produce the occasional worldie from long range.
No doubt, Young’s spent the last few seasons stuck in the wilderness at Old Trafford, performing well when called upon but inevitably seen as a bit-part player by Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. Yet, he’s now reached a stage of his career where natural talent has combined with experience and intelligence to give hope of an Indian summer somewhere else in the Premier League – and the London Stadium seems like the perfect destination for a final swansong.
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