United have announced the signing of 18 year old full-back Luke Shaw who joins the club from Southampton on a four year contract. There has been a good deal of speculation about  Shaw joining United over the last few months, with several journalists reporting that the transfer was a “done deal” several weeks ago.  That appears to have been over- stating the situation but since the move was announced the player himself has confirmed that negotiations have been on-going for some time. The transfer certainly comes as no surprise.

Luke Shaw made his Southampton debut in 2011-12 season as a 16 year old when he appeared in a single FA Cup tie. Since then he has made 67 first team appearances.  He is widely considered to be one of the country’s most promising young players and has been capped 4 times, most recently in England’s final World Cup game in Brazil against Costa Rica. United have signed him against a background of interest from England’s other leading or moneyed clubs.  This transfer, then, is a significant triumph.

Luke Shaw in action for England at the World Cup

Luke Shaw in action for England at the World Cup

Shaw is a strong left back who likes also to get forward; he is quick and powerful as well as technically gifted. At 18 years of age he is considered by many to be England’s left back in-waiting.

Where will he fit in?

At United he will be seen as the long term replacement for Patrice Evra.  Evra recently signed a one year contract extension although many fans have been concerned about his decline for some time.  Alexander Buttner was clearly not the answer and he left the club last week. The extension to Evra’s contract should be seen as a means of easing Shaw’s transition into life at the club and we would expect both players to get plenty of playing time next season.

United’s defence has been in decline for some time, with ageing players, youngsters yet to establish themselves and a few prospective replacements not coming up to scratch.  Luke Shaw won’t solve all these problems, but if he can develop to provide defensive solidity combined with attacking thrust, at least the left back position will be an area where United should have few worries. Given Shaw’s age, he has the potential to adopt that role for 10 to 15 years.

Those fans bemoaning the fee paid for Shaw should remember that the club has signed one of England’s most promising young players.  United’s signing of two players in two days should bring some relief to those who want to see confirmed transfers.  In recent years we have watched a declining team whilst transfer activity has seemed hesitant. The club appear to have found some “value in the market” at last.

Luke Shaw, welcome to Old Trafford.