Luke Shaw: Who is the latest Manchester United signing?
The England youngster is set to complete a switch to Old Trafford for a fee in excess of £30m
Friday 27 June 2014
An England debut, World Cup appearance and multi-million pound move to Manchester United - it is fair to say 2014 has been a decent year so far for Luke Shaw.
A decade on from being turned down by boyhood club Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham, his exquisite form with Southampton and recently his country has seen him secure a move to one of the world's biggest clubs.
The deal could see Shaw become the most expensive teenager of all-time should the add-ons be fulfilled, continuing an incredible rise that shows no sign of abating.
The 18-year-old was one of few positive points from a miserable World Cup campaign and became the youngest player to feature at the tournament when he started Tuesday's goalless draw with Costa Rica.
A day later he was on the flight back home to England, where the wheels quickly moved into motion for his move to United, undergoing a medical on Thursday and signing the following day.
United paid such a lofty fee thanks to Shaw's exciting mix of attacking flair, defensive solidity and maturity - attributes which saw him named in the Professional Footballers' Association Team of the Year and among the nominees for the Young Player of the Year award this season.
Luke Shaw in action for Southampton
Such recognition highlights the impressive rise of the Surrey boy, whose first dalliance with a professional club came at Arsenal.
Part of the Gunners' development centre in Croydon and then Walthamstow, he joined Chelsea after their Premier League rivals decided not to include him in their 20-man academy squad.
From a family of Blues fans, it looked the dream move for Shaw, only for his physique to see him fail to make the grade at their academy as well.
The left-back also spent a fruitless three-week spell at Fulham before he was spotted at a tournament in Basingstoke by Southampton, who, after a six-week trial, signed up the eight-year old.
It has proved a shrewd move for all parties involved and they - as well as England - owe a debt of gratitude to his parents, Paul and Joanna.
Up to four times a week over an eight-year period they took him down to Southampton's Staplewood training ground - a journey that would take an hour and 45 minutes each way on an average day. Sometimes it could end up being a five-hour round trip but they did it to give their son a chance, not because they thought he would be a star.
In truth, Shaw was an average player until turning the corner aged 15. At that time, the left-back upped sticks and moved in with a family in Southampton, with whom he lived up until the move to Old Trafford, to continue his education on and off the field.
The decision quickly paid dividends, with Shaw becoming a regular for Jason Dodd's under-18 side before being handed his first-team debut aged 16 in a 1-1 FA Cup draw at Millwall in January 2012.
It was quite the baptism of fire and, having featured in Saints' Capital One Cup ties at the start of the 2012-13 season, he was soon given a surprise Premier League debut at West Brom in November that year.
Relegation-threatened Saints lost that match 2-0 but things have vastly improved for player and club since then.
Fast forward to today and Saints last season secured a record Premier League points haul and finished eighth, while Shaw has made 67 first-team appearances.
He also has three England caps to his name and, having played on the world stage, is unlikely to wilt under the pressure brought by Manchester United.
Not one to fret, he has little interest in the opponents. In truth, Shaw is more like your average 18-year-old than a Premier League footballer.
Committed and grounded, he does not turn up to training in a flash car - not because he could not afford one, but because he would rather focus on football than passing his driving test.
It is that drive and bloody-mindedness which highlights just why Shaw is set for the very top.
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