Having put in some accomplished performances so far during pre-season and at the beginning of the new Premier League campaign, Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw seems to have rediscovered the form which saw the Red Devils spend £27million to prize him away from Southampton last summer.
He has shown an attacking intent, defensive improvement and a natural ability to drive past opponents, with his excellent early season form leading many, from ordinary fans to pundits and former players like Andy Cole, to believe that the talented youngster will have an outstanding season at United in addition to re-establishing himself in the England national team.
Shaw arrived at Old Trafford following a fantastic 2013/14 campaign at St Mary’s in which he was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and secured a spot in the England squad for the 2014 World Cup, ahead of experienced international and then-world-class left-back Ashley Cole.
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However, new manager Louis van Gaal seemed immediately concerned about Shaw’s fitness levels and he claimed that English football’s most expensive teenager wasn’t fit enough to play for the club.
Despite training on his own in some parts of the season and enduring multiple injury setbacks which halted his progress, Shaw did manage to make 20 appearances for United in all competitions last term and, whenever he did play, you could see what all the hype was about.
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The youngster displayed great energy, power and a willingness to get forward which suggested that, should he rid himself of his injury problems, he’d go on to become a mainstay in the United team.
SHAW’S PRE PRE-SEASON
Over the course of this summer Shaw revealed that he was out of shape when he signed for United, backing up the thoughts of Van Gaal.
In a concerted effort to return sharper to pre-season and remain injury free in 2015/16, both Shaw and Belgian teammate Adnan Januzaj took one of the club’s fitness coaches with them on their respective holidays this summer.
This meant that before United had even left for their pre-season tour of the United States, Shaw had already lost three kilos (nearly half a stone), which left his manager absolutely delighted.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Shaw is a technically gifted footballer who has the speed, athleticism and defensive capabilities to enjoy an incredibly successful career.
He seems to be reaping the rewards of his mature decision to address his fitness issues over the summer, enjoying his football more than ever, and has even developed a budding and widely observed bromance with new signing Memphis Depay.
At the tender age of just 20, the Englishman is only going to get better and could conceivably be United’s first-choice left-back for the next 10 to 15 years.
Along with fellow full-back Matteo Darmian, Shaw has been hailed by Van Gaal as “very important”, and, with United back in the UEFA Champions League and the 2016 European Championships on the horizon, he could be on the brink of big things for both club and country.
United fans, just how good might Shaw become for you this season? Let us know in the comments box below.