Luke Shaw could have his name up in lights in the near future, propelling rapidly to the top as one of the Premier League’s best full-backs. I don’t know, that’s just what they say. The youngster has put in many good performances this season, highlighting his talent particularly in the attacking phase of the game. Chelsea, Arsenal and a number of ‘bigger’ Premier League clubs have been linked with a move for the teenager, with natural questions arising as to where his best destination would be.
Now this is likely to go against the grain and some fans might be a little shocked by an opinion that’s so obvious that it passed everyone by. How about the youngster, a 17-year-old defender in his first season in the Premier League, stays with Southampton for a few more seasons?
It has absolutely nothing to do with big clubs in England snapping up the brightest young stars and preparing for the future. For some, that is the most insincere explanation they can possibly give. Oh he’s a youngster who could rise up the ladder in English football and become one of the genuine stars of a future generation. That all may be true, but how many of the big clubs are actually going to invest their time in making sure that happens?
When clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City have the money they do, why bother investing in youth and building for the long-term when older players, many of whom can be described as mercenaries, are readily available to bring home a title now? Moreover, the continuous swapping of managers over a short period of time can only lead to younger players being pushed to the side lines in favour of the new coach’s preferred transfer targets.
This pursuit of Luke Shaw says so much about English football – all of which is wrong. How long will it be before he lines up for the England senior team? With the nonsensical approach this country has, I wouldn’t put it past Roy Hodgson to bring him in as soon as later this year. Well some might say he’s deserving of it, well of course he is. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision. Equally, the performances put in by Shaw this season have certainly offered the impression that he’s ready for the step up to a club competing in the Champions League. Once again, that doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for the youngster or English football.
I’d love to see the player remain at Southampton for a few more seasons. What that club have is a tradition of nurturing youngsters and offering them the environment and education to properly develop. At Southampton, Shaw is a regular in the team and performing at the highest level of English football. In addition to that, there is no pressure on the player. He knows where many expect him to be in a few years, but there isn’t a clamour for him to produce every week well before he’s ready. The fact that he has done so well this season should only be seen as the icing on the cake.
Even with Arsene Wenger’s track record of developing youngsters, I’d still call this summer as at least two years too soon for a move to Arsenal. The same applies to Chelsea, Manchester United and any other club who fancy making a move. You have to ask the question whether many of these clubs actually need Luke Shaw and will benefit from him for footballing reasons as opposed to bragging rights. It’s a game of one-upmanship and Shaw just happens to be the pawn at the centre of it all.
It’s just so typical of English football to think about the short-term and get carried away by a string of promising performances. Instead of asking where Shaw would be best suited, why aren’t more experts of the game encouraging the player to remain grounded and, above all, sensible? He doesn’t need a transfer away now. The best move for Shaw this summer would be to remain at Southampton.
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