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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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