Luke Shaw was always going to be a major topic of transfer discussion. It’s not just in his talent but also his upbringing, coming through the ranks at Southampton, who have a fantastic record of developing high-end players. But which club is best suited for the left-back?
Chelsea are unquestionably in need of a new addition at left-back. It’s come to the point now where Jose Mourinho would prefer to play Cesar Azpilicueta, a natural right-back, out of position on the left than reinstate Ashley Cole into the starting XI. Luke Shaw is going to be a regular in the England team in the future, likely competing for a place with Kieran Gibbs. Not only that, he’s already proven himself to be a very good Premier League footballer. He’s still only 18.
If Mourinho wishes to make a move, he’ll more than likely be backed by the wealth of Roman Abramovich. Southampton have been in good form for the majority of this season, but despite their claims that any enquiry or bid for Shaw will be firmly rejected, it’s more than likely that persistent overtures from a club like Chelsea will eventually see Southampton cave.
It’s not only Chelsea who are in for Shaw, though. Tottenham have also registered an interest due to the lack of a high quality left-back in the team. Jan Vertonghen has seen most of his minutes this season out on the left rather than in his preferred central position, and a large criticism of Andre Villas-Boas was his decision to overlook that position during the summer window.
The problem is, though, that despite Tottenham’s heavy outlay in the summer, they may not have the financial muscle to outmanoeuvre clubs like Chelsea. Spurs aren’t backed by Champions League revenue, at least for now, and Southampton’s asking price of somewhere in the region of £30 million might prove to be too steep. It’s not to say that Shaw isn’t exactly what Spurs need; his attacking qualities would fit in well with Villas-Boas’ tactical setup. The problem is price, and Shaw may just be out of reach for Tottenham.
It’s also important not to discount Manchester United, who are desperately in need of unearthing a left-back to take over from the 32-year-old Patrice Evra. Alex Buttner is not good enough and simply can’t be relied upon; he may in fact be one of the players who exits the club in the near future. But Shaw is the ideal fit, or at least the most obvious.
Leighton Baines simply doesn’t make sense at 29 years of age, whereas Shaw would help to bring the average age of the squad down and also represent value for money. Even at £30 million, he’s going to be a star player in the future. Look back over recent years and the fees high-end full-backs have gone for: Dani Alves, arguably the best right-back a few seasons ago, went to Barcelona for £31 million; Sergio Ramos joined Real Madrid as a 19-year-old from Sevilla for £23 million; and even Fabio Coentrao was a costly addition for Madrid at £26 million plus Ezequiel Garay.
Chelsea may have the financial backing, but is Mourinho the ideal manager for a young player who must continue to be nurtured? The Chelsea manager’s track record would indicate no. Based on need and financial power, Manchester United represents the best move for Shaw.