Chelsea should replace Ashley Cole with Southampton starlet

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In the last two years, Chelsea have undertaken a dramatic change in transfer policy.

Owner Roman Abramovich has encouraged the signing of bright young prospects and future stars who could develop into replacements of the gradually dwindling 'old guard' of the first Jose Mourinho era.

It may fall on sorry ears but one day ageing stars such as Frank Lampard and John Terry will have to leave the club, and replacements will be sorely needed. Another man of the old guard who will need to be replaced is Ashley Cole. 

The England international has now completed seven seasons at Chelsea following his controversial move from Arsenal in 2006. Over this period, the 32-year-old's performances have received universal praise, and at times pundits have commended him as the best left-back in the world. He only has one year left on his contract, and any information on whether he stays beyond next season is merely speculation.

Many dubbed Ryan Bertrand as Chelsea's next long term full back, but his performances this season have generally been below par, and both Rafael Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo have preferred him in a more advance role. Now almost 24, Bertrand doesn't have long until he's the final product. He certainly hasn't proved just yet that he is good enough to take over Ashley Cole.

But the man that may fill his boots is Southampton's Luke Shaw.

Shaw has been tipped for success since his debut for Southampton in January 2012. At only 17 years of age, he has been a regular on the team sheet for the Saints, making a total of 25 appearances this season. The media have labeled him as the next Gareth Bale, who also graduated Southampton as a full-back. However, unlike the Welshman he followed, Shaw looks destined to stay in the defence.

His performances have been consistent and have showed an unexpected maturity for a player of his age. Maturity, the same word that Nigel Adkins used to praise the young man after he assisted Jason Puncheon's equaliser against Chelsea.

"You talk about maturity and he demonstrated it. It was a great surging run," said the former Southampton manager.

The surging run Shaw made in that game displayed his deceptively fast pace. As for his consistency, England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce had something to say about that: “I don’t think I’ve seen him play badly in all the games I’ve seen of him. For a 17-year-old playing at that standard that’s quite impressive”.

Pearce had taken note of Shaw's excellent season, and called him up to the England Under-21 squad as a result - a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old.

As well as his impressive skill set, Shaw is a boyhood Chelsea fan. You only have to look at his Twitter timeline to witness his support for the club. This means that Chelsea would not only be signing a player with huge amount of talent, but also one with a passion and belonging to the club - a strongly admired trait in any new transfers.

Left-back may not be a position in Chelsea's squad which needs attention with the same immediacy as the central midfield or forward role, but Shaw would present a great addition to the team and prove a great prospect for the future. 

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