How Luke Shaw steadily became England’s best option at left-back
It wasn’t long ago that Luke Shaw’s (£3.3m) Man United future was in doubt.
He was given the coldest of shoulders by Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese’s tenure at Old Trafford as question marks lingered over his professionalism and quality.
His England career appeared to have fatally stalled too, with his last appearance for the Three Lions coming in 2018.
But this season has framed the 25-year-old’s renaissance with many fans believing Shaw to be the Red Devils’ best player of the campaign after Bruno Fernandes (£5.3m).
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This sentiment was cemented last weekend when he scored the second goal in Man United’s 2-0 win the Manchester derby to end Man City’s record-breaking run of victories.
Shaw has banked 17 points in Game Week 24 so far with only Harry Kane (£6.6m) performing better at the weekend.
The ex-Southampton defender has moved onto 109 points overall, taking him to the edge of the top ten defenders, where team-mates Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£3.7m) and Harry Maguire (£5.3m) currently reside.
Coincidentally, the player one place above him in the rankings with just one point more is Ben Chilwell (£3.7m).
The fine margin between the two players may mirror the internalisations of Gareth Southgate as the England boss plots his Euro 2020 (2021) strategy.
Chelsea’s £50million asset is being forced to share first-team duties with Marcos Alonso (£2.9m) under Thomas Tuchel’s watch.
Bukayo Saka (£3.6m) showed promise as full-back but has flourished in an advanced role on the opposite flank in recent weeks, leaving Shaw and Chilwell to battle it out at left-back — barring an unexpected recall for the in-form Aaron Cresswell (£2.2m).
On current form, Shaw appears to have the edge while Chilwell fights for Tuchel’s approval at wing-back.
Man United’s left-back has provided six assists in all competitions this season to Chilwell’s five, although the Chelsea man has the edge in terms of goals with two to Shaw’s one.
His performance in the Manchester derby earned Shaw his third Star Man award of the season, something Chilwell has achieved just once.
But when you factor in Shaw’s disciplinary record (nine yellow cards) and Chelsea’s superior defensive record as a team, you arrive at an extremely tight call between the two.
If Chilwell’s minutes are limited until the end of the season and Shaw continues to impress then Southgate will surely have to consider a change in personnel in England’s defence this summer.
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