Ever since Luke Shaw broke into the Southampton first-team as a teenager the full-back has been talked about as a future star. Now at Manchester United and 23 years of age, Shaw is finally starting to fulfil his potential at the top-level.
Shaw has usurped England international Ashley Young at left-back for United. The relative youngster looks like he is finally starting to impress Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho.
Performing well for Manchester United
Last season was a mixed one for Shaw. He made five straight starts for the first time since 2015, but boss Mourinho seemed to be unsure about the full-backs fitness and ability to play at the top level.
Towards the end of the campaign, Shaw looked to be heading through the United exit door. In fact, even in January, there was speculation that the former Saints star was moving on.
However, there seems to have been a transformation in Shaw’s fortunes this season. He returned to training after the summer in peak physical condition and has started all four of the Red Devils Premier League games so far this season.
Not only has started the games, Shaw has been one of United’s better players this season. Mourinho praised the full-back recently by telling Sky Sports ‘Mentally, physically, he is stronger. Tactically, he has a better understanding. We are very happy for him. It is extraordinary for him’.
Left wing-back a missing piece in the England jigsaw
In terms of Gareth Southgate building an England team, the Three Lions boss has a number of positions with players already set in stone. However, Ashley Young played at left wing-back during the World Cup.
Take nothing away from the 33-year-old. However, it always felt like he was filling in, maybe because of his age or maybe because it is not his natural position. At United, he has played in the position, but Shaw now looks to have done enough to keep his place in the position.
With Ashley Young left out of the latest England squad, and Southgate talking about introducing younger players, Shaw has the perfect chance to make that left wing-back/left-back position his own in the Three Lions team.
Shaw has all the makings of a top modern full-back. He can defend, but he can also go forward. He looks made for the left wing-back role, as long as his attitude and desire remain the same.
A chance to impress against Spain
On Saturday, England faces Spain in the newly established Nations League. With Spain in a transitional period following the appointment of new boss Luis Enrique, the bookmakers are finding it difficult to decide between the two teams in terms of favourites.
In reality, Southgate is expected to stick with the majority of players who impressed at the World Cup. The two exceptions will be the injured Raheem Sterling and the aforementioned Young.
The Spain match gives Shaw the chance to stake a claim for that left wing-back on a regular basis. If he continues in his current vein of form, he could occupy the role for the next decade, because as it stands Shaw is the top performing English player in the position.
It seems that Luke Shaw is finally fulfilling his potential, which can only be good for United and England.
Can Luke Shaw nail down a regular starting spot for England?