Could Manchester United Winger Ashley Young Ever Rejoin Aston Villa?

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Could Manchester United Winger Ashley Young Ever Rejoin Aston Villa?
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Aston Villa play host to Manchester United this weekend in a match that will see Ashley Young line up against his former employers.

England and United winger Young spent four seasons with the claret and blues after joining from Watford in 2007 and quickly became a hit among Villa fans.

The 28-year-old operated in a Villa side that loved to play on the counter-attack—something that perfectly suited his pacy style—and enjoyed relative success during his time in the Midlands.

Young helped Villa qualify for the Europa League in three successive seasons, finish runners-up in the 2009/10 League Cup final and collected a number of personal accolades along the way, including PFA Young Player of the Year and back-to-back spots in the PFA Team of the Year.

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Stand-out performances earned Young international recognition before interest from some of the Premier League's heavyweights followed. Reports suggested that the winger was close to joining Liverpool, though Manchester United beat their rivals to his signature—agreeing a deal with Villa for a fee of around £20 million in June 2011.

It was a huge move for Young who had stated his aspirations of playing in the Champions League during his transfer to the Red Devils, but his time in the famous red shirt hasn't panned out the way he would have wanted.

A number of injuries and a dip in form hindered the winger's chances of featuring for United on a regular basis and he has subsequently only made 48 Premier League appearances for the 20-times league champions.

He has struggled to convince United boss David Moyes of his first-team credentials and is often the target of crowd unrest at Old Trafford.

Now, ahead of Young's third visit to Villa on the opposing side, we explore the possibility of him ever rejoining the claret and blues.

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During his time in Birmingham, Young established himself as one of Villa's star men and, despite a relatively young age, took on a lot of responsibility operating from the flank and was subsequently named vice-captain.

Young played in a very promising Villa side that included the likes of Gareth Barry, James Milner and Stewart Downing—all England internationals and also all players who have moved on to "bigger and better things."

With Martin O'Neill at the helm and Villa seemingly heading in only one direction—upwards—Young flourished and rightly earned a great deal of recognition.

However, despite his many talents, the tricky winger's impatience, lack of desire to help out defensively and petulant nature—especially when things weren't going his way—singled him out in a team that were renowned for their hard work.

Young was a fan favourite when he performed to the best of his ability, but the Villa faithful would quickly grow tired of his antics when that wasn't the case.

His departure came during a time of transition for Villa. O'Neill had recently left the club, with the likes of Barry, Milner and Downing all either out of the door already or due to do so in the following months.

Villa are a now a different club to the one that Young left almost three years ago. They no longer have the funds to pay huge wages—a luxury O'Neill was afforded during his time in charge—and therefore have to operate in a contrasting manner and with a different philosophy.

There are no longer big egos at the club, just humble, hard-working youngsters who are keen to do well when presented with the opportunity.

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Paul Lambert has instilled a tremendous work ethic and honesty in his current crop of players, which is evident each time they step on to the pitch. Question marks loom over Young's honesty, however.

The winger has come under much criticism over recent years—particularly during his time with United, though similar remarks were made when at Villa—regarding his tendency to take a tumble in order to con the referee into awarding him a free-kick.

And it appears that Young is unapologetic about his reputation as a "diver." As reported by The Telegraph's Mark Ogden, he said:

It (diving) has been talked about (with Moyes), yes. It’s been talked about obviously, by the previous manager and the current manager, but that’s in house. I’m not going to comment on what’s been said.

...

Of course I understand what you’re saying (about gaining a reputation) and everyone is going to have their say on it.

But I’ve spoken to the previous manager and current manager, the referees are giving decisions and that is where I think it lies.

Young will be keen to prove to his current boss that he has what it takes to be a Manchester United regular when they take on his former club at the weekend. The winger is likely to feature for the visitors and will aim to silence the United faithful who gave him ironic applause when he replaced Robin van Persie in the 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek.

However, if Young's fortunes at Old Trafford continue in the same vein, then he may seek a move elsewhere, though a transfer back to the Midlands is not the right option—for him or Villa.

As previously stated, the claret-and-blue outfit are a different team to the one he left in 2011. There is just no longer a place for him in the Villa side. Despite his enormous talent—which is undoubtedly evident when playing at his peak—a player of Young's stature and temperament goes against everything Lambert is trying to achieve at the club.

Villa fans will always welcome back Young, just as long as he is on the opposing team.

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