Everton have made their first signing in nearly a year, and it’s a free agent veteran being brought in to bolster a fullback corps that struggled badly with form and fitness late last season.
Ashley Young has joined the club on a one-year deal with an option for another, with the Toffees jumping at the opportunity to strengthen the squad without paying a transfer fee. The Blues are being watched keenly by the financial watchdogs of the Premier League, and are unlikely to make any significant signings during this summer transfer window unless there is a prominent departure first, so this kind of deal is likely to get replicated a few times this summer.
The Stevenage-born footballer brings a wealth of experience to the Toffees’ dressing room, having lifted more trophies than the entire Everton squad combined including league titles in both England and Italy, as well as the Europa League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Charity Shield.
The fullback turned 38 this past weekend, and has made his way around a number of English clubs throughout his career, rising to prominence at Watford FC where he was a teammate briefly of Blues manager Sean Dyche. He followed that with a move to Aston Villa where he caught the eye of then England manager Steve McLaren and going on to make his Three Lions debut in 2007.
Young picked up the bulk of his 39 England caps (along with seven goals and ten assists) along with most of his trophies while at Manchester United for whom he featured 261 times over nine years. That was followed by a brief one and a half year sojourn to Italy with Inter Milan in the back half of the 2019/20 season, becoming only the third Englishman to win the Scudetto the next year.
He returned to the West Midlands in 2021 on a one year deal, before signing another last season under Steven Gerrard who would later be sacked and replaced by Unai Emery, with the Spaniard’s influence felt immediately as Villa reeled off a series of strong results to finish the season seventh and book a berth in this season’s UEFA Europa Conference League. Young featured in 32 games last season, a remarkable feat for a player of his age, but certainly not a one-off with him having played in 25, 34 and 43 games in the campaigns preceding last year to highlight his general fitness.
Speaking to the club website after his signing, Young said -
“I’m delighted to be an Everton player and to have joined this massive club. I can’t wait for the season to start and walking out at Goodison Park is going to be an unbelievable feeling and to hear the passionate fans behind me.
“The manager was important in me signing. I know him and know what his passion and desire is like. His honesty, will to work hard and his hunger for the game is second to none.
“I know things haven’t gone too well for Everton in the past couple of seasons but the manager’s ambition, speaking to him and hearing what he wants to do to change the club around, was a key factor in my decision.
“The other is the size of Everton. It’s a massive club and the fanbase is one of the best. Having them behind me is a fantastic opportunity. I’m delighted to get the opportunity to be here and I just want to get started now.”
Manager Sean Dyche added -
“Ashley is a top-class professional whose record of team and personal achievements during a successful career make him an excellent addition to our squad.
“I’ve known Ashley for many years, having been his captain when he first broke through at Watford, and his qualities both on and off the pitch will prove valuable.
“His impressive statistics from last season, which were among some of the best in Europe, highlight what he can bring to Everton.”