Adam Bond shows how staying at Southampton could help Luke Shaw to become one of the best full backs in the world.
Former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins made a bold decision to promote a young 17 year old left back into his first team. Results had been a little on the poor side and having an unknown young lad in the team looked a bit desperate. However; Adkins had an ace up his sleeve. Luke Shaw became an overnight success in an underachieving Saints team and he proved to be a valuable asset. His powerful running and crossing abilities couldn’t overshadow his natural defending qualities; this was something Adkins had been missing. Having already been labelled the ‘new Gareth Bale’ it would seem the football world has been keeping a close eye on his progression and his similarities to the Welshman.
Shaw has shown a lot of promise since he made the left back role his own. Having been compared to a young Bale on more than one occasion it brings to mind the other left backs he resembles. Shaw has a lot of his own characteristics but he has a very similar approach to games as Ashley Cole, Gary Neville, Dani Alves and Pablo Zabaleta, some of the elite full backs of recent years.
Shaw has the running power and speed which has been the trademark of Cole and Alves. Both Cole and Alves are unbelievable attacking full backs. The modern game allows the full backs to race on and create a false winger who keeps the width and delivers when necessary. This near enough ‘wing back’ role can be used in any system as long as you have a quality defensive midfielder and an understanding wider midfield player to track back and cover. Southampton have that in the resolute Schneiderlin and the intelligent Lallana. Attacking ing back type full backs are ten a penny, but it’s Shaw’s defensive nous which gives him the edge and marks him out for greatness.
In Neville and Zabaleta you have a natural team player who, at all costs, wants the team to win. The going forward and being a wing back is something Zabaleta and Neville had perfected. They ran 80 yards to give the flair midfielder a two yard bit of space to deliver a cross or just a bit of breathing space to do something special. When both players are called upon to sit and hold out the game or sit a little deeper and stop the flow of the opposing midfield, they become ultimate defenders at full back; this is something Shaw at his tender age has got in his locker. Shaw doesn’t slide in unnecessarily or make silly challenges. This is some youthful rawness but this is something the more experienced pros like Rickie Lambert and coach Pochettino can help him with. Shaw’s calmness and decision making is something which makes him stand out from the average full backs. Even more so because he is demonstrating elite skills at just 18.
Shaw has been linked with many teams over the transfer window but has signed a new 5 year deal at Southampton. It makes sense for him to ‘do a Le Tissier’ and stay there for a long time. If Shaw and Southampton can keep other clubs away, it would be in everyone’s best interest. If Shaw stays at Saints for many years not only would he have time and games he can grow his reputation. A good example of this is Leighton Baines at Everton. He has matured and developed at a club where he is adored. Shaw’s international prospects could be called into consideration at Southampton, but aren’t games and experience better than sitting on a bench getting paid far too much and becoming an average full back? That is not to mention the clear ambition that Southampton are showing in the transfer market right now. England managers will pick the best team which is available and if Shaw is playing consistently and becoming the linchpin of the Saints team, he may be the answer to the left back spot for England going forward. By the time he is 21/22 and needed to take over for the senior team he could have 150 games for Southampton under his belt and a huge reputation.
You can read more from Adam at his blog keeppossession.com
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