The rumour mill has cast doubt on Luke Shaw landing his dream Manchester United switch, stating the Old Trafford club have taken a shine to Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba in recent weeks.
Fresh competition for Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner is reportedly one of the highest priorities for inbound Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal to address if United are to realise odds of 6/1 about them regaining the Premier League crown from neighbours Manchester City next season.
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There are few finer left-backs currently in circulation at the moment, almost guaranteeing success from whoever United opt for, but here’s how the two compared in numbers from last season to help you, dear reader, decide which of the pair is superior.
Plagued by hamstring injuries, Alba could only participate in 15 league games last term, in which he made 1.5 tackles and 1.7 interceptions, as well as 2.6 clearances on average.
These figures may not be overly impressive on the surface, but given the Catalan club’s possession obsession, it’s hard for Alba to dispossess foes who scarcely get a kick of the ball.
For a player of just 18 years, Shaw’s diligence deserves commendation – he made 2.1 tackles and 3.5 clearances from his 35 matches in comparison.
Neither player had their name inked onto a scoresheet in 2013/14, but Shaw’s penchant for running with the ball may render him better suited to the Man Utd style.
Barca’s one-touch passing game limited Alba to just 0.4 dribbles per match, which pales in significance when measured against the Southampton star’s 1.6.
Profligacy is a much bigger problem for the youngster though – he lost the ball 1.2 times on average.
Alba, on the other hand, is a beacon of thriftiness having squandered the orb just 0.2 times per outing.
Last season was not one flush with assists for either number three – Shaw made one, Alba two – but both picked at least one key pass whenever they took to the field.
As expected, it’s Alba who wins this particular duel, though only just – his 1.2 would-be assists per outing best Shaw’s by 0.2, but the Barca man dominates in terms of total passes made and completion rate.
The Spaniard attempts to find a colleague 65 times in each of his league appearances, hitting the mark a staggering 89.4 per cent of the time.
Shaw lays on 40.1 passes, but his radar isn’t as effective, for he only finds the target 79 per cent of the time.