By Anthony Onifade

6th Jun, 2023 | 2:10pm

Door now wide open for Matty Cash to reclaim regular Aston Villa spot after Ashley Young news

Aston Villa confirmed club legend Ashley Young will leave the club this summer following the resolution of his contract, which hands one senior star the chance to prove his worth to Unai Emery.

The 37-year-old was a regular in the team under Emery in a hugely successful campaign for Villa, but after talks, it’s been decided that the veteran will leave the club at the end of his contract.

An official statement by the club (31 May) thanked Young for everything he had offered, during both of his influential spells at Villa Park.

Young made 247 appearances across all competitions in two spells at Aston Villa.

He rejoined the West Midlands club in 2021 after being released by Manchester United and this season he played 29 times in the Premier League to help the Villans qualify for the Europa Conference League.

It remained to be seen whether Young would have the required legs to compete at the top level again for Emery next season, with Aston Villa now preparing for European football after qualifying through their seventh-placed finish in the league.

Now after the confirmation of Young’s departure from the West Midlands, plans will now be made on how Emery will look to replace Young’s quality and influence, but one man who seemed to have ran out of time to impress after recent injuries and poor form is Polish international Matty Cash.

Cash has proven a crucial commodity in the Aston Villa side in recent seasons after some mature, assured and dominant performances at right-back since his move from Nottingham Forest in 2020.

The latter stages of the 2022/23 campaign have been something of an unfortunate struggle for the Polish international, suffering from injuries and a lack of form in which the last few games of the campaign presented him with the opportunity to show Emery he should retain his spot as first choice Aston Villa right-back, especially with European football now on the horizon.

The former Nottingham Forest man had established himself as a key and prominent figure in the team before his injury, registering 24 Premier League appearances, averaging two tackles, one interception, 1.4 blocks and 0.5 crosses per game [WhoScored], he also ranks in the 82nd percentile of full-backs within Europe’s top five leagues for tackles per 90 [FBRef].

Arguably his best performance of the campaign, came in the Premier League on 18 March when Villa picked up three easy points against Bournemouth by a 3-0 scoreline.

The Pole was superb in that game, picking up the fifth-best score of any player to take the pitch at 7.6/10, also registering 10 out of 13 ground duels won, successfully completing 88% of his passes, completing three of his four dribbles and registering three clearances [SofaScore].

However, post-injury certainly saw another side to Cash as he laboured to a dreadful performance against Brighton on the final day where he was given a yellow card for a rash challenge, and also given the worst average score of any Aston Villa player at 6.4/10 [SofaScore], only recording two tackles, one interception, losing possession of the ball nine times, failing to win any of his aerial duels and successfully completing just 77% of his passes and failed to deliver any key pass or telling cross in the attacking sense.

On his day, Cash is an exceptional performer but those consistencies in his game have become a rare sight of late which will have given Emery some major cause for concern as he looks to reshape his squad in the upcoming window.

Cash’s form was even more concerning and probably embarrassing on his part, given the tremendous consistencies and performances of Young who started at Cash’s expense and was arguably on his last legs as a 37-year-old veteran.

It remains to be seen how Emery will look to reshape his defence this summer, and whether he will look to incorporate a talented academy player or sign a quality replacement for Young, but Cash now knows the door is wide open for him to claim a regular berth in Emery’s team for the long haul and once again show why Aston Villa invested so heavily in his when he joined from Nottingham Forest in 2020.

In other Aston Villa news, one Villa ace is ready to explode next season, with his goal-creation statistics not telling the full story.