Luke Shaw came in prior to the start of last season for big money from Southampton and was supposed to solidify the left-back position for Manchester United. But a slew of injuries prevented Shaw from making a good impression during his first year with the Red Devils.
The price tag on Shaw was undisclosed, but is rumored to have been around $47 million, making him the most expensive teenager in the world. At 19 years old, Shaw had 60 Premier League games under his belt with Southampton before joining United at Old Trafford.
The season was destroyed by injuries and he never really seemed to get back the level of fitness required to play at the highest level. But during the preseason tour in the United States this summer, Shaw has looked fit and has been extremely impressive, especially in the games in California against the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Barcelona.
United legend Denis Irwin had a lot of praise for the 20-year-old defender as he commented the game for MUTV.
“Luke last year never really got into a flow or a rhythm because of the injuries,” Irwin said. “It’s great to see him come back this year. I think he’s been mightily impressive. He’s struck up a great partnership with Ashley Young out there on the left.
“I thought they were a real threat against San Jose Earthquakes and I think they continued that today against Barcelona. They did some good overlapping which enabled Ashley, who’s more comfortable on his right foot, to cut inside. Luke gives us good options going down the left.
“We know he’s quick, we know he’s got good ability, that’s never been in doubt and it looks now that Luke is fit, clear of injuries and let’s hope he continues like that because he is a top player.”
Shaw spoke with MUTV after the Barcelona game and touched upon the great connection he has struck up with left winger Ashley Young.
“I love to play with Ash on the left. We’re building a great understanding now. He’s great going forward but he can give me help at the back as well,” Shaw said. “He gives me the pass when I’m overlapping. He knows what to do, he can come inside as well and he’s always dangerous when he does that.”
When fit, Shaw is one of the most talented left backs in the game, and he’s already gotten four caps for the English national team. He was held out of the Under-21 European Championship this summer in order to rest and prepare for the upcoming season with United. England failed to make it past the group stage as Portugal and Sweden shocked and went through the group that also included Italy.
Although United has had some impressive results during the preseason tour in the United States, ending up with three victories and one loss in four games, Shaw noted that a good preseason doesn’t automatically mean that things will go as planned in the regular season.
“We’re a bit cautious because we had a great pre-season last year and then we went into the first game and lost,” Shaw told MUTV. “That’s something we all know and we’re all focusing on in training and the games we play in. We’ll take it game by game but the most important game for us is the first game of the season against Tottenham.”
United finished the preseason tour on Wednesday, falling 2-0 to paris Saint-Germain in Chicago at Soldier Field. The team will now head back to Manchester and prepare for the opening match against Tottenham Hotspur on Aug 8. With Shaw back in full health, it will be a huge relief for manager Louis van Gaal, who only had Shaw play 16 league games last season due to his fitness problems.
There’s no doubt that Shaw has the capability to be a real threat going up that left flank as well as shutting down opposing attackers. He came in at a big fee, but it looks like he’s ready to start paying it back.