In Profile: Ashley Young

Ashley Young is Sean Dyche’s first signing of the summer transfer window.

Young, a free agent after spending two years during a second spell at Aston Villa, arrives on Merseyside with a wealth of valuable experience.

At the time of his Everton signing, the 38-year-old had made 422 Premier League appearances - the 32nd highest total in the competition’s history - while also earning 39 England caps across an impressive career.

Young also ranks 15th in all-time Premier League assists, recording 71.

During his time at Manchester United, where he enjoyed the longest spell at a single club, Young contributed towards several trophy wins, including the 2012/13 Premier League title, the 2015/16 FA Cup, the 2016/17 League Cup, and the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League.

Along with the successes in England, Young won the 2020/21 Serie A title while playing for Inter Milan – their first league triumph since 2009/10. In doing so, Young became only the third Englishman to win the Scudetto.

For the national side, Young has featured in two major tournaments, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2012 UEFA European Championships, as well as helping the Three Lions to the semi-finals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Across his 20 years in the game, the Stevenage-born defender has played under a wealth of respected managers, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

Now a reliable full-back after initially being a tricky winger in his early days, Young has proved his versatility in recent years. Indeed, he has made at least one appearance in every outfield position across his career.

Although he’s been most utilised as a left winger (203 appearances), Young is comfortable in defence, where he now primarily operates, recording 82 appearances at right-back and 71 at left-back.

Young started his career at Watford, joining their academy aged 10. He was handed his senior debut under Ray Lewington in September 2003, scoring as a substitute against Millwall, and going on to play in the same Hornets team as Dyche.

Under Aidy Boothroyd in the 2005/06 season, Young started 41 league matches, scoring 15 times, including a play-off semi-final goal against Crystal Palace, as Watford reached the play-off final and eventually beat Leeds United 3-0 to gain promotion to the Premier League.

Young made 98 appearances for Watford, before transferring to Aston Villa in January 2007.

In August of that year, Steve McClaren selected Young for the England squad for the first time, but it wasn’t until November when he made his international debut, coming on as a half-time substitute in a friendly against Austria.

For the 2007/08 season, Young finished second to Cesc Fabregas in Premier League assists, with 17, and was included in the PFA Team of the Year.

Continuing to impress during the following campaign, Young became the first player to win three Premier League Player of the Month awards in the same year. For the 2008/09 season, he was again featured in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

After making 157 appearances for the Midlands club, Young signed for Premier League champions Manchester United in June 2011.

Young made his debut in the UEFA Champions League in September 2011, scoring a headed goal in the 90th minute to help United to a 3–3 draw against Basel. 

In the summer of 2012, he played in all four of England's matches at the European Championships, which concluded with a quarter-final defeat to Italy on penalties.

For the 2014/15 campaign, United manager van Gaal experimented with Young as a wing-back in the Dutchman’s favoured 3-5-2 system. He also went on to play as a right-back and left-back for the Red Devils.

In April 2017, Young captained the Red Devils for the first time, as his team triumphed with a 2-0 win over Chelsea. He was later appointed as club captain in August 2019.

Young was named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup, where he played as England’s first-choice left-wing-back, helping the Three Lions reach the semi-finals alongside Jordan Pickford.

Following 192 appearances for Manchester United, Young signed for Conte’s Inter Milan in January 2020 for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, which included an option to extend for another year.

After reaching the Europa League final in his first campaign, Young stayed on for a second season, and Inter won the 2020/21 Serie A – a first title for the club after more than 10 years.

In June 2021, Young returned to Aston Villa, where he spent another two seasons and played in 53 Premier League matches.

Adapting his game over several years, Young showed his defensive prowess during his second stint at Villa. In his final season, he registered a 75.5 per-cent tackle success rate against opposition dribblers – an amount that ranks him in the highest three per cent for full-backs in Europe’s top five leagues.

He also featured in the top 11 per cent for shots blocked, the highest 14 per cent for clearances, and top 30 per cent for aerial duel success rate.