Luke Shaw isn’t your average 19-year-old lad.
On June 27 this year he became the most expensive teenager in world football after Manchester United paid Southampton in the region of £30 million for his services and then he featured in England’s less-than-successful World Cup campaign in Brazil. While most blokes that age are earning enough for a few cheeky pints at the weekend with their mates Shaw now pockets £120k every week, but is he good enough to start for the 20-time champions of England?
After returning from his summer holiday a week early to train, Shaw was told he was unfit by new gaffer Louis Van Gaal and put on his own training regime. The full-back then suffered a hamstring injury which ruled him out for a month but returned to the team – albeit on the bench – for United’s home tie with QPR. The United defence has been a major talking point this year with Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra all departing last term, and Shaw’s stats last season suggest he should be a leading contender for the left-back slot if he stays fit.
Shaw’s tendency to play attacking football at Southampton drew early comparison’s to former Saints man Gareth Bale with a particular focus on his electric speed, ability to create goalscoring chances, but also his defensive awareness. Luckily he can do all that without having to wear a hairband or do that ridiculous heart celebration.
- Last season Shaw created 33 chances in the Premier League. Just three defenders (Patrice Evra, and Everton duo Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman) created more goal-scoring opportunities. At Man United, just Evra and Wayne Rooney managed to create more last term.
- The left-back also made 61 tackles. That’s more than any Man United player and the ninth highest tally of all top flight defenders last season. He also chipped in with 150 clearances and 37 interceptions.
- He is also willing to collect the ball and take on opposition players. Last year Shaw made 56 successful take-ons – the second-highest of any defender in the league (Seamus Coleman made 64). The only United player who came close was Januzaj with 51.
But should Luke Shaw start against Leicester on Sunday?
Despite concerns regarding Louis Van Gaal’s three-at-the-back formation and the very real possibility of a Phil Jones clusterf*ck at any given moment, Man United have conceded just three goals this season in the league. Aston Villa are the only Premier League side to have conceded less. The Red Devils have also kept two clean sheets on the bounce (admittedly against Burnley and QPR) and Marcos Rojo who joined United for £16m after playing a key role in Argentina’s World Cup run slotted in nicely at lef-back last week.
It may be that Shaw comes in at left-back with Rojo moving to centre-back to replace either the talented but inexperienced Tyler Blackett, or Johnny Evans who is constantly haunted by injury concerns.
Whether you fancy Luke Shaw to start or not, United are 7/5 to keep a clean sheet away to Leicester on Sunday or 9/5 to win to nil. In eight of their last nine meetings, United have won and kept a clean sheet, the only exception being a 4-1 win for the reds in 2003. It’s looking ominous for the Foxes.
- Manchester United Stats: The stats that prove that Van’s the man to lead a title challenge next season
- You Costa Paddy Power a fortune! How Diego is vindicating Jose Mourinho’s decision to dump Lukaku
- Man City v Chelsea: Why Jose Mourinho’s beastly record away to City should worry the Premier League champs
- Too Keane to worship? Why Roy isn’t the only reason for Aston Villa’s resurgence