With Manchester United’s purchase of Luke Shaw all but done and dusted, the question must be asked – why did Chelsea let themselves get outbid for a left-back that some are calling the next Ashley Cole?
Shaw had an impressive season for Southampton, and looked strong and unflustered on making his World Cup debut against Costa Rica. He’s certainly a better defender than the dodgy Leighton Baines and as such, is likely to become England’s first-choice left-back very soon. Given his tender age, he could be occupying that position for many international tournaments to come – assuming England qualify, of course.
Chelsea evidently need a left-back following Cole’s departure. Cesar Azpilicueta was an excellent stand-in, but it’s the wrong side of the pitch for him. The club obviously don’t rate Ryan Bertrand highly enough, nor Patrick Van Aarnholt just yet (though he may come back to the first-team squad next season).
The Blues have been tracking Shaw for some time, and made contact with his representatives. He is a lifelong Chelsea fan, which the club seem to think would give them the edge over their rivals in any transfer negotiations.
The sticking point appears to have been the price, purely and simple. At £20 million, Chelsea were very much in the running. Once it went over that – as a desperate Manchester United threw money at Southampton to try to eliminate other bidders – we appeared to pull out of the running.
Let’s get it straight – £30 million, which is what United will eventually pay for Shaw if he makes enough appearances, is an awful lot of money for a defender (only three defenders have ever cost more). It’s even more money for a left-back (it makes him the most expensive full-back in history). And it’s a staggeringly colossal sum for a teenage full-back, one who has only recently graduated from raw novice status, who hasn’t secured an international place, is yet to play in the Champions League and hasn’t shown whether he can handle the top-class players in the game, the Messis and the Ronaldos. Manchester United, who know they need to overhaul their squad fast at at ever cost it takes, have put a lot of their transfer kitty on a huge gamble – and it may leave them short of the funds they need to pursue targets who would have a greater impact on their performance.
In the meantime, Chelsea look set to take the £20 million they were prepared to pay Southampton and use it to buy Filipe Luis, a left-back with proven Champions League class, steeled in the art of clamping down on the Messis and Ronaldos. Yes, he’s a decade older, yes he’s not English (so won’t go helping us with our homegrown quotas), and no he’s not a Chelsea fan.
But it’s still a no-brainer really. Luis for £20 million is a solid bet. Shaw for £30 million is a desperate gambler’s hopeful punt.