Luke Shaw: Chelsea Would Be Wise to Sign Young Left-Back to Replace Ashely Cole

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIJanuary 2, 2013

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Jonathan Walters (R) of Stoke City in action with Luke Shaw of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Southampton at Britannia Stadium on December 29, 2012 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

There are several teams showing interest in Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, but Chelsea are in the most dire need of a left-back due to Ashley Cole’s age, poor form and rumored plans to leave the club.

With the English Premier League’s giants setting their sights on the 17-year-old prodigy, Saints manager Nigel Adkins has started to get defensive in response to all the rumors. The Sun reported, “Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea all fancy the defender. Yet Saints boss Adkins said: ‘He’s under contract and we are not looking to let him go anywhere.’”

City has received serviceable and consistent performances from Gael Clichy at left-back this season, while Kieran Gibbs has nailed down a starting spot at the same position for Arsenal, and the Gunners have awarded his play with a new contract.

Clichy is 27 years old, and although he is not young, he still has several productive years left. Gibbs is just 23, and he has the ability to have a long career as Arsenal’s starting left-back.

Chelsea, however, have Cole and no viable replacements at the position. While Ryan Bertrand has played the position on occasion, he is not an ideal option to step in for the veteran defender.

At 32-years-old, Cole is certainly not the left-back of the future for the Blues and given his form this season, he may not even be the right player for the present. Manager Rafa Benitez tipped both Cole and Frank Lampard to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, and a slip up from whoever manages Paris Saint-Germain’s Twitter account suggests that the French club may attempt to take Cole out of London sooner than that.

While other clubs would have motivation to cash in on a player whose contract is expiring, a few million extra pounds matters little to billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, and Chelsea’s ideal strategy should be to sign Shaw and keep Cole until the end of the season.

While the Southampton starlet has been impressive in his Premier League appearances this season, he is still at such an early stage in his development that the Blues would do well to have a veteran option at left-back as well.

This will allow for a smooth transition to Shaw as the club’s first-choice left-back, and the team could explore other less expensive options for a veteran player to occasionally play the position.

Chelsea needs to start planning for the future with Cole’s exit seemingly imminent. No left-back in the Premier League has a future as bright as Shaw, and the Blues have more motivation to sign him than any of the other clubs that are reportedly interested.