Could Anfield target be the man to fill the void?
It is no secret that Ashley Young is a transfer target for Liverpool, and could well end up wearing the red of Liverpool come August. However, the prospective signing of the Aston Villa winger has caused a divide of opinion among the Liverpool faithful, with many questioning whether he is the answer to Liverpool’s long-term width problems.
Liverpool have spent big in recent years looking for wingers, and many would argue that it has been a decade since the Reds have been graced with someone sufficient in that position. They’ve spent heavily on the likes of Albert Riera, Harry Kewell and Ryan Babel but all have failed to live up to expectations for different reasons.
With Liverpool’s new owners Fenway Sports Group promising investment in the squad, Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli will no doubt be on the look out for a wide man in the Summer, with strong reports that a bid for Young was made in January. Young has been in reasonable form for a struggling Aston Villa this season, scoring 6 goals and making 8 assists in the Premier League.
However many are not keen on Young, and I would share their views. His tendency to constantly cut in rather than run at the opposition full-back means that he is rather a predictable player, and it doesn’t stretch the opposition defence as much as is desirable. What Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll (in particular) need is a player who can get chalk on his boots, stretch the defence and whip good crosses into the box for the front men to feed on, and also create space for people arriving late into the box, like Steven Gerrard or Raul Meireles. His style reminds me of one Ryan Babel, who enjoyed cutting in, but who also failed to provide natural width to the Liverpool side because of this, as did Yossi Benayoun during his spell on the left-wing.
Watching him play against Wales and Ghana in England’s recent friendlies was enough to convince many that he isn’t the answer, as he appeared to spend more time in central positions, rather than out wide giving the full-backs trouble. Despite assisting Carroll’s goal (with a ball in a central position), he never provided the kind of service that Andy Carroll or even Luis Suarez would thrive on.
It would be fair to say that perhaps Young would be more suited playing as an inside forward, or a second-striker. If it was Kenny Dalglish’s intention to sign him, and use him in an inter-changing front-three trio along with Carroll and Suarez (as he has done with Kuyt, Carroll and Suarez) then perhaps Young would be a good option for that role, however one would argue whether Carroll would still get sufficient service from wide areas. Obviously people’s opinions will differ, and many are certain that Young would be perfect for Liverpool. And I’m not saying that wide players can’t play on an oppositde side and cut in, because a team needs variety.
One thing most can agree on is that Liverpool need a wide player in the Summer, a traditional wide player who can terrorise full-backs and provide quality service from the wide areas for Liverpool’s forwards to thrive on. Whilst I don’t think that man is Ashley Young, I trust that Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli will find a man to do that.