Manchester United are racing to secure the signature of Southampton left-back Luke Shaw before the World Cup. The England international, who is valued at around £27 million by the Saints, was close to signing for United earlier this month until talks stalled.
United saw Shaw as the immediate successor to long-serving Frenchman Patrice Evra, but contrary to reports, Evra decided to sign a new one-year deal at Old Trafford. Evra’s new deal gave incoming United boss Louis van Gaal more time to think about his long-term plans for the left-back position. Some media outlets then claimed United had cooled their interest in Shaw and were looking at cheaper alternatives.
However, it has emerged that Shaw remains a key target and van Gaal wants a deal in place before the Southampton teenager flies to Brazil for international duty later this month. A source close to St Mary’s Stadium told Guardian Liberty Voice that Shaw was equally keen on a move to Old Trafford and has told the club that much.
“United are the only side to have made an offer for Luke,” the source said. “Both the United and Shaw want the deal to go through so it’s really only a matter of when. With United and Shaw now seemingly in a race to get the deal done before the tournament starts, a deal could be announced next week.”
England flies to Miami today (Sunday) to play Ecuador and Honduras before flying to Brazil ahead of its opening game with Italy in Manaus. The US city should help the players acclimatise to the humidity awaiting in the Amazon. Although Miami will not provide the same level of humidity, it will be more than what the European-based players are used to. Shaw is understood to be a starter in one of the games as England manager looks to give the player as much game time as possible before the main event.
With veteran Ashley Cole now off the international scene, Shaw and Everton’s Leighton Baines – a player United also made bids for last season – will battle it out for a starting spot in Brazil. Baines is favorite to get the nod due to his age and experience, but Shaw has continued to impress and shows a maturity way beyond his 18-years.
With Baines now 29 years old, it is unlikely he will be England’s first choice left back come the 2018 World Cup in Russia and so Shaw can use this tournament as a major stepping stone toward securing the position for a number of years. Cole had made the England left-back spot his own for a number of years and now Hodgson has got two natural successors at his disposal.
If United do sign Shaw, he will probably make the United left-back slot his own with no real competition. Dutchman Alexander Büttner, who only made a handful of appearances for United last season, has been linked with an exit for some time. Now it is down for United and van Gaall to win the race against time and bring Shaw to Old Trafford before rival clubs express an interest following the World Cup.