Manchester United have been chasing Luke Shaw all summer and are today widely reported to have finally conceded they will have to pay top dollar and meet Southampton's £34m asking price to land the starlet, but if there's an even an ounce of truth in that obscene valuation then the recruitment policy at Old Trafford needs an urgent review.
Now before Saints and Red Devils fans gather together to render that view redundant such a sweeping statement is no way an attack on Shaw, who is hugely talented and just a month shy of his 19th birthday has already amassed 60 Premier League appearances and three England caps as a marker of his potential.
Shaw has proven capable of making a strong impact during two full seasons in a Southampton side on the up, but surely United's stock has not crashed to the extent that they are considering shattering the world-record transfer for a teenager just to sign a young full-back, has it?
THE GAME HAS GONE
Over the last five years fans of top clubs have become accustomed to eye-watering transfer fees for stars not fit to match steep valuations, I'm looking at you Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll, but let's take stock of what it would mean if United are indeed laying out that ridiculous sum for Shaw.
First things first, United are setting a dangerous precedent by proving willing to pay over the odds to secure Shaw's services. Louis van Gaal's side need at minimum four quality additions to a squad which fell woefully short of expectation last season, so imagine the kind of crazy sums top clubs will ask for their prized assets if United come calling after signing Shaw.
WOODWARD UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
United executive vice-president Ed Woodward is already under massive pressure to make sure there's no repeat of last summer's utter fiasco in the transfer market, which saw the defending Premier League champions court Cesc Fabregas, Wesley Sneijder and co but fail to land a top playmaker.
Former Red Devils chief David Moyes did of course eventually get the gift of Juan Mata in January, at an inflated club-record figure of £37.1m I might add, but this new cavalier attitude to spending at the Theatre of Dreams is a very dangerous precedent to set.
Wages also don't seem to be an obstacle to any deal, with Shaw to be offered a deal worth £100,000-a-week, at the age of 18. Surely any football fan with a grip on reality can't justify that figure, it's utter lunacy.
EUROPE HOLDS ALTERNATIVES
What makes the Shaw deal look silly purely in business terms, whether agreed or not, is that there are a far cheaper alternatives at a similar if not more advanced level of experience and quality across the continent.
Van Gaal is working with one right now as Netherlands boss at the World Cup, Ajax pass master Daley Blind.
The 24-year-old showed his full repertoire of skills in Holland's opening Group B clash against Spain, chipping a delicious through-ball towards Robin van Persie to create arguably the most memorable moment of the tournament so far, a gravity-defying header.
Blind also set up a strike for Arjen Robben in that match and impressed considerably with his work-rate and positional sense at wing-back, and is quite remarkably available to any club willing to pay Ajax a fee in the region of £12m this summer.
If Southampton could fetch that exorbitant fee for Shaw and get Blind as his replacement while banking just shy of £20m that represents superb business for the South Coast side, while also going a large part of the way to paying for the modernisation of their Staplewood training ground.
THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
United fans have every right to be concerned that the second most expensive signing in the club's history will be an inexperienced, raw talent, but will hope strong early form can make sure the weight of a considerable price tag doesn't weigh on Shaw's shoulders.
Red Devils veteran Patrice Evra has signed on for another season and will help to ease the transition, but even at his very best the French international, one with 58 caps no less, would never have commanded a fee even close to the one being banded about for Shaw like it matters little.
Shaw could go on and play for United across a glorious decade and pay back every penny of that hefty outlay, but somehow it doesn't sit right that one of English football's brightest prospects will be under massive pressure before hitting the age of 20, rather than learning his trade and steadily rising to the top of the game.
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