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 on to play in the Premier League and some have gone 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. He is a boyhood fan of London based club, Chelsea. He went on to play football at school boy level and ended up being scouted by and subsequently joining the Saints’ academy. He has been at the youth academy of Southampton from 2003. Shaw played at the U-16 level for the England national team making 6 appearances and scoring 1 goal. He then went onto play at the U-17 level making 8 appearances and scoring 1 goal. He was called up to the U-21s for a friendly vs Sweden but was forced to withdraw due to 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 has since 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 in the 82nd minute with his side 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 on to 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 featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-out for in 2014. He was at #6 in our list of defenders. See the entire list here. He also featured in the Readers’ Team of the Season (based on votes) at Outside of the Boot’s inaugural #TalentRadar Young Player Awards.
Styles, Strengths and Weaknesses
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 before being played in a more advanced position. The two players are similar in the sense that they are both very attack minded and boast of common attributes such as pace and dribbling The way he performs has sparked interest from major English teams such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Former Saints 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 his headers, something made easier by the virtue of his height. He has sound 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 hold onto it which helps him with respect to 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 efficiently, 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 contribute offensively as well. When the Saints played his ‘boyhood’ club, Chelsea, Shaw showed his attacking prowess providing 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 tends to 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 in the game against 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 picked 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 flair. 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 short passes (using his feet etc.). His long passes have not been as good but he is a player whose passing range tends to shorter. 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 a decent passing accuracy.
He has a 68.1% clearance rate throughout the season which means he has stopped a lot of chances. With 109 clearances and 46 interceptions, Shaw has shown he has the intelligence to stop a pass or a cross from an attacker.
Shaw has managed to create 8 chances so far this season which highlights his attacking capabilities and his enthusiasm to get forward to support his team mates.
This piece was written by Luke Taylor. Follow him on twitter @luke16taylor