Chelsea Transfer News: Luke Shaw Would Emulate Gareth Bale at Stamford Bridge

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 24, 2013

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  Luke Shaw of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St James' Park on December 14, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Gareth Bale's rise from defender-in-waiting to world-record transfer signing has set a benchmark for wing-backs everywhere, but it's perhaps Luke Shaw who has more hopes than anyone of following the superstar's path.

Like the Real Madrid sensation, Shaw's sterling development has been astutely served at St. Mary's, although the 18-year-old's value as a Premier League left-back has been made clearer at an earlier stage than Bale's ever was.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28:  Luke Shaw of Southampton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Crystal Palace at St Mary's Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Image
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino's defender has missed only three of Southampton's 17 Premier League outings this season and has continued his impressive growth, reportedly attracting the interest of Chelsea.

That's according to Mirror Football's Alan Nixon, who hints that Jose Mourinho's side are intent on replacing the ageing Ashley Cole with the aspiring English youngster.

However, that future is alleged to rest on just how much playing time the Blues would be able to throw in Shaw's direction.

Mourinho would undoubtedly take no greater pleasure than unearthing a player of Bale-esque talent having just missed out on the opportunity to coach the genuine article himself.

Talksport's Alex Goring Crook reported former Saints captain Claus Lundekvam as tipping Shaw to go on and emulate Bale's ability in the future:

Though one should be tentative in tipping the starlet for a future as a more advanced asset, Shaw's success at the back this season has shown encouraging signs of a winger-in-waiting.

It's no secret that the modern full-back's evolution has carved out a far more attacking figure. These days, it's increasingly common for those on the flanks to sacrifice some portion of their defensive solidity in pursuit of having a more prominent input going forward.

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 30:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF warms up prior to the start of the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Valladolid CF at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Ima
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Squawka statistics show that Shaw, despite having barely a season of Premier League experience to his name, has once again been one of Pochettino's main creative resources this term.

The teenager has crafted 10 scoring opportunities for the Saints so far this season, the most influential of any defender and currently fifth highest in the entire Southampton squad.

Those contributions have come at the expense of some defensive proficiency, numbers also showing that the youngster's tackling success is at just 45 percent. It isn't as valuable as his talents with the ball at his feet, for example.

During his time as an aspiring left-back at White Hart Lane, Bale's worth in attack tended to always outshine his defensive qualities, with quick, counter-attacking mobility having initially cemented his place ahead of Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the Tottenham pecking order.

Shaw's heat map vs. Chelsea on Dec. 1.
Shaw's heat map vs. Chelsea on Dec. 1.Via Squawka

And like Bale, Shaw is a player accustomed to driving directly at his opposite man. Were it not for the wealth of wide talent at St. Mary's and a lack of full-back alternatives, the teenager may have already been handed a chance in midfield or even further ahead.

By no means is that to claim that Shaw is certain to one day break the world transfer record himself and feature as a Bernabeu-based talisman, but Southampton's new kid on the block is displaying some stark similarities to a past success from the South Coast.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Luke Shaw of Southampton evades Paul McShane of Hull City during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Hull City at St Mary's Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hew
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Still in his ascendancy as a Premier League hopeful, Shaw's path is sure to take many a twist and turn, of which a potential winter transfer could have a massive impact.

Irrespective of where he finds himself playing, however, the starlet's athletic progress will ensure that a future in a more attacking capacity remains a firm possibility.