Manchester United and England Star Ashley Young: Closing In On World's Best
Manchester United's Ashley Young, after his great start to the season, looks set to join the world football echelon usually reserved for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, all £35 million transfer targets Arsenal or Manchester City didn't get, and the FC Barcelona starting lineup.
He's a player high on confidence, and one who hasn't been fazed by his big transfer fee or the size of the club he's joined.
As his manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "Some players come to a club like ours and find it difficult to settle in but Ashley has done exceptionally well."
It's a point that's not lost on the man himself, who told The Sun: "I've set out my stall to be in the starting 11 and in the last two games I've done that, so I've got to continue to play well for Man United and build on the confidence that I've started with so far this season.
"As long as I'm in the team I'm happy—whether it be left, right or in the middle up front. I've got confidence in myself to play in any position."
Like all of the world's best players, Young is a confident footballer who has the ability to play well in different positions, and build up strong partnerships with other players.
Manchester United's Ashley Young: Will He Be One of the Best Players in World Football?
On the England scene, his well-documented partnership with Wayne Rooney has paid dividends, with the duo scoring four out of the last six goals the Three Lions have scored, with Rooney scoring a double away to Bulgaria and Young netting in the Wembley games against Switzerland and Wales.
Young has also made three assists in those last three international matches, in which he has started all of them, proving how valuable he is to Fabio Capello.
The former Watford star is rapidly emerging as England's best player, and has thrived in his newly-established support striker role, with proven all-round ability to create chances and finish them expertly.
And in the club game, Young's role for Manchester United is different, as he lines up along the left wing and forms that traditional 4-4-2 style partnership on the flank with the full-back, Patrice Evra.
But as he said, he has the confidence to play well in any position, and he's clearly done that for United as a winger.
He tops the assists charts already, with four assists in three games, which is more than any player in a major league in Europe.
Young has also made nine key passes from 30 crosses (which is more than any Premier League player) out wide, again proving his superb ability to create chances.
He's created the third highest amount of chances so far in the Premier League, behind Chelsea's Frank Lampard (14) and Manchester City's Samir Nasri (11). However, both those players feature in a more central, playmaker-friendly position for their respective teams.
He also has the ability to cut inside and provide a threat on goal himself, as proven by the 10 shots he's already had, five of which have been on target, a statistic which is actually better than most strikers in the Premier League at the moment.
But his ability when cutting inside is proved moreso than anything by the fact he's already found the net twice for his new club, with two well-taken long-range goals from outside the penalty area against Arsenal in that 8-2 hammering at Old Trafford.
The winger has taken Antonio Valencia's position in the United starting lineup, and that's no small feat considering the Ecuadorian is well-respected at Old Trafford, and when fit was integral to the club's success, scoring seven goals and making 11 assists for the Red Devils in 2009-10.
So far Young's tally for the season, including the FA Community Shield, stands at six games played, four goals scored and eight assists made.
For England as a support striker, it's a goal from two games and three assists, while as a winger for Manchester United it's two goals from three games and four assists, topped off by nine key passes.
Compare that to last season where Young hadn't made a single assist or scored a goal for Aston Villa or England at this stage of the season, and it's clear the 26-year-old is making the most of his opportunity to prove his worth on the biggest stage.
If he keeps it up in the UEFA Champions League as well, and there's no reason to suggest he won't, Ashley Young will undoubtedly be among the best players right now in world football.