It’s been five-and-a-half years since Manchester United signed Luke Shaw and made him the most expensive teenager in world football. Ashley Young has made 175 appearances since then, many of those coming at left-back.

His imminent departure [BBC] is evidence that Shaw hasn’t become the player United hoped he would. More than that though, it’s a testament to the quality of Brandon Williams.

Young departure shows faith in Williams

The 19-year-old full-back came into the side for the first time in the League Cup in September and Young is being allowed to leave in January. It’s not a direct correlation and it would be wrong to label it as such. But it is a testament to the trust that Solskjaer and United’s dressing room have in Williams.

He’s quickly established himself, from a position of mild expectations, as United’s first-choice left-back, ahead of Shaw and Young. Significantly, Young has rarely come into the side to replace Williams unlike in Shaw’s tumultuous United career.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Ashley Young of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League group L match between Manchester United and AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford on December 12, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Young will leave United with a strange legacy and memory. The club captain appears to have pushed for a January transfer to Inter Milan.

It’s not a move, though the full story has not yet become widely known, that reflects upon his commitment to the club since joining. Young’s played all across the backline and on both wings for United and was once tried up front when Louis van Gaal was in charge.

Young had a connection with Manchester United fans

He’s had a genuine connection for much of the matchgoing support. Young is a player who won’t let his teammates forget about the fans who have travelled miles to watch their team.

 

Harry Maguire is of a similar ilk. For that reason, opinions on Young have often been split between those who watch United in the flesh every week and those who watch on TV.

The latter can more clinically dissect Young’s performances for what they are: weak. Though he put in some serious shifts in defence, mistakes in last year’s UEFA Champions League defeat to Barcelona sum up why he had to be replaced.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Brandon Williams of Manchester United walks off after the FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers  at Old Trafford on January 15, 2020 in Manchester, England.
(Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

It’s another move that puts United on the right track. Why the club felt they couldn’t wait until summer to let Young go is unknown.

Perhaps the pressure from the player was too much. But had Williams not broken through in the way that he has, there’s no way that United or Solskjaer would be willing to let their captain and former first-choice left-back leave for a small fee.

Williams has finally made Young unnecessary

Williams will now know, if he didn’t already, that Solskjaer has faith in his ability. In recent days, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker have both praised the young Englishman.

By the end of the season, he could be the clear first-choice for United. That’s his challenge. Meanwhile, Ashley Young looks like he’ll be in Serie A having become somewhat unwanted at United for the first time in half a decade.

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