When he signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2014, Luke Shaw had the world at his feet. However, nearly three years on, Shaw is struggling to break into the United match-day squad.
Despite his inability to break into the first-team, Shaw earned a call-up to the latest England squad. This may be due to the injuries in the England squad rather than his performances, but it’s a huge opportunity to impress club boss Jose Mourinho and get his fledgling career back on track.
The curious thing about the United starlet is, he’s started all of the last three seasons in the first team, but he’s never been able to hold that place down.
In his first season under Louis van Gaal, Shaw was criticised for a lack of fitness early on in pre-season, and due some indifferent defensive performances and nagging injuries, Shaw struggled to impress in his debut season at Old Trafford.
One year later and Shaw started the season in exhilarating form, often proving to be United’s best player in what turned out to be van Gaal’s final season at Old Trafford. Playing in the Champions League away at PSV, Shaw suffered a double leg break which ended his 2015/16 season, and ruled out his chances of playing at the Euros.
After returning from his double leg break, Shaw was thrusted into the first-team by new manager Mourinho, but he didn’t last long. Defeats against Manchester City and Watford saw Shaw dropped by his new boss, and publicly criticised for his shaky defensive displays.
At the time of his call-up to the England squad, Shaw had started just twice for his club side since November, which would cast serious doubt over the merit of his call-up.
But what does the future hold for one of the most expensive teenagers of all-time? He’s got a few options available to him:
Stay at Manchester United:- There is no doubt that United is still an elite club in world football and one of the best players for a young player to grow and reach their potential, regardless of your stance on Jose Mourinho and his youth policy. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard are all important parts of the Red Devils’ attack, so there’s hardly a blockade in place against young players like the mainstream media would have you believe. No left-back has made that spot their own at the Theatre of Dreams this term, so a run of good performances could see Shaw establish himself as the next great full-back to grace the Old Trafford turf.
Move elsewhere in England:- There’d be no shortage of suitors for Shaw should he decide to leave United. He’d fit the Chelsea mould in an attacking wing-back position, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are short of consistent full-back options but whether United would sell to them is questionable. Elsewhere, lower Premier League sides would scoff at the chance to take Shaw off Mourinho’s hands, with Everton in particular needing to replace the ageing Leighton Baines.
Move abroad:- Shaw’s style of play would definitely suit playing away from England, in Spain in particular. His focus on attacking play rather than defensive solidity would serve him well in Spain, where the defensive side of the game is often less important. He could be the first of a generation of English players who choose to pursue their careers abroad, rather than staying in England. The high-profile success of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid is an example of how to further your career outside of Britain.