Southampton has produced some excellent youth stars in the past such as Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer back in the day. They have all went onto play in the Premier League and some have went on to become very highly rated players. Luke Shaw is another player who is likely to follow their footsteps.
Luke Shaw is from Kingston upon Thames, England. Throughout growing up he has supported London based club, Chelsea. He went onto play football at school boy level and ended up getting scouted to join the Saints’ academy. He has been at the youth academy of Southampton from 2003; this was when he was 8 years old. He carried on throughout until 2012 and then he broke into the first team. Shaw played at U16 level for the England national team making 6 appearances and scoring 1 goal. He then went onto play at U17 level making 8 appearances and scoring 1 goal. He was called upto U21 level for a friendly vs Sweden but was forced to withdraw with injury.
At 17 years old he has made some great performances for Southampton and has burst onto the scene. He started at the academy and managed to work his way through from that level to reserves and then has progressed onto the first team. He made his senior debut last year against Millwall on the 28th January 2012 in an FA Cup replay match. On the 5th November 2012 he made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 defeat to West Brom replacing Danny Fox on the 82nd minute whilst 2-0 down.
Shaw has picked up only 1 yellow card in his professional career. “Southampton is the place to be for young kids like me,” Shaw told the club’s official website. “I’m playing in the Premier League for the first team and that is all anyone wants to be doing, so I just want to carry on.” He then went onto say “I have spoken with the chairman about a long-term plan for me at the club. To put an end to all the speculation, I will be committing my future to Southampton. I’m not going anywhere.”
Luke Shaw has a very positive style of play as a left back. His pace, control, dribbling ability and freekick taking are top notch and are just a minority of some of his very impressive attributes. He has given the Southampton management no choice but to give him some first team playing time.
Shaw has been labelled as the :next Gareth Bale” by some pundits and legends of the past and you can see why. Gareth Bale too started off as a full back at Southampton and continued to play in that role at Tottenham. The two players are similar as they are very attack minded. The two players have attributes of pace and dribbling which make them very similar. The way he performs has sparked interest from major English teams such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Former Saint’s manager, Nigel Adkins, announced that Shaw would not be leaving Southampton and new boss Pochettino has said that he wants to keep him at the club.
Since the introduction of Shaw into the first team, Southampton has started to slowly climb the table. He has been a fixture in the Southampton’s starting XI since November and has featured 22 times this season. Shaw has been a good defender for Southampton. Many defenders are classed based on their ability to head the ball away to anywhere they can but it seems that Luke Shaw can find a player with is headers and it makes it easier with his height. He has a simple judgement and is able to find the simple pass after retrieving the ball from an attacker. Shaw knows when to release the ball and when to keep onto it which helps him in his attacking prospects.
Shaw’s strength for a 17 year old is very good and he is rarely out muscled. When faced with an attacking player in a one on one situation, he can deal with it effeciently and shield the ball and stand his ground when under pressure. He is increasingly improving his decision making when faced with a challenge. The right type of coaches will effectively improve this part of his game, but good old-fashioned hard work is the best remedy.
Shaw is not only solid defensively but can provide offensively as well. When the Saint’s played his ‘boyhood’ club, Chelsea, Shaw showed his attacking talents when he provided a stunning drilled cross after bursting down the wing for Jason Puncheon to score their equaliser. Not only can Shaw dribble and use his pace to get past defenders, he also has the intelligence to find a player. He can exploit space and support team mates with or without the ball.
Shaw isn’t all good though, sometimes he is fond of wandering away from his position leaving space in behind for opposition attackers. It’s a common weakness of attack minded defenders to trot away into attacking zones, failing to return to their defensive territory in time. This was evident vs Reading but he got lucky as Adam Le Fondre blazed his shot over the bar. He tends to lose concentration now and then but this can only improve with more experience playing at a high level which he is doing.
Shaw has a massive future ahead of him.
The table above shows the average duels that Shaw wins during matches. These stats have been calculated throughout his 22 appearances for the club. As it shows, he has successfully won 40/47 tackles that he as attempted which is a terrific percentage of 85% which shows good consistency when tackling attackers. He has only committed 10 fouls this season and picking up 1 yellow card and he has suffered 21 fouls which shows his attacking abilities to get past defenders. The next stat shows that he has been more successful while taking on people than unsuccessful. He has taken on people 19 times successfully out of 35 which is a 54% success rate which also presents his attacking flare. A defender is likely to have good heading ability but full backs nowadays seem to be more attacking and pacey than physical but Shaw is both. He has won 46/80 headers he has challenged for which is above 50%.
Luke Shaw has a 70% pass accuracy rate. Most of his successful passes are made through general passes (using his feet etc.). His long passes have not been as good but he is more of a simple player than spraying 40 yard balls like Steven Gerrard. The successful general pass he has made comes to 335 passes. His successful headed passes are 64. He has only managed to misplace 96 of his general passes which show that he has good pass accuracy.
He has made a 68.1% clearance rate throughout the season which means he has stopped a lot of chances coming Southampton’s way. He has made 109 clearances in total. Shaw has made 46 interceptions which show he has the intelligence to stop a pass or a cross from an attacker. He has only made 5 blocks but that is more likely to be lower because he is a full back and not a central defender.
Shaw has managed to create 8 chances so far this season, some of them leading to a goal. Most of his chances have come from the attacking end of the left flank which presents his attacking performances and his enthusiasm to get forward and support his fellow team mates in their attacking adventures.
Luke Shaw will be 18 by the time the 2013/14 season kicks off. Southampton will no doubt what to keep this talented prospect at the club. But as they have shown in the past, a decent offer could tempt them.
Reports in the media have suggested that Chelsea have a concrete interest in the young Englishman. Being a blues fan, Shaw too will be tempted with any offer from London. But at this tender age, and with a chance of possibly being that long sought after replacement for Ashley Cole in the England national team, regular first team football is an absolute must. We’ve all seen young starlets show promise at a young age (Jeffers, Pennant), without actually maintaining their reputation. Shaw has to ensure he isn’t another one of those failed talents.
Pochettino has done a good job at St. Mary’s, and they’ve all but secured survival. Any transfer away from the club must ensure first team football, or better yet, a loan back to Southampton to allow the youngster to develop.
Featured image via dailyexpress.co.uk. All stats via the excellent Squawka.com