Southampton’s teenage full-back Luke Shaw has emerged as alternative to Everton’s Leighton Baines in David Moyes’ transfer plans and a move for the former could be the way to go for the Manchester United manager as he attempts to land odds of 14/5 by defending their 2012/13 Premier League title.
It’s hard to say what the Red Devils’ current left-sided defender of choice Patrice Evra will have made of the club’s courting of his de facto replacement in Baines, but he will have a right to feel aggrieved.
The Frenchman is a veteran of some 335 appearances for the side he joined alongside Nemanja Vidic in the last days of 2005 and showed no signs of losing his edge as United won the title last season, registering four goals and five assists.
His attacking returns, so important in a modern full-back, differed from those of much-heralded creative force Baines by a single goal and came in four less starts. It should also be considered that the Everton man takes his side’s penalties.
Evra is 32, so having a top-class replacement ready to roll is important, but given the Frenchman has shown no sign of falling below his best form yet, United may be better off investing in Shaw – one of English football’s hottest young prospects.
He would reportedly cost around £10m, whereas Baines is likely to command a fee far in excess of the £12m the Old Trafford club wish to pay for him. Everton are understood to be far more committed to keeping him than his Goodison Park teammate Marouane Fellaini.
Still aged just 18, Shaw took the step up to the Premier League in his stride in 2012/13 when drafted in to the Saints side in place of Danny Fox.
His worth to the team was illustrated by the fact that Southampton won 33 per cent and lost 21 per cent of the games in which he started, whereas they were victorious in just 17 per cent of the games in which he wasn’t in the XI, losing a whopping 67 per cent of those outings.
While bringing in Baines to replace team stalwart Evra would risk interfering with the dressing room dynamic at Old Trafford, acquiring Shaw as an understudy to the Frenchman would allow the Red Devils to continue to benefit from their occasional captain’s inspirational presence on the pitch.
In the meantime, Shaw’s game could mature in training alongside United’s French international left-back as he grows into the role of his mentor’s natural replacement.