Chelsea will need all of their negotiating skills to prise Luke Shaw from Southampton.
New Saints owner Katharina Liebherr has maintained an unequivocal standpoint concerning any outgoing transfers and Rob Brennan of the Daily Mail detailed Liebherr's open letter to reassure fans:
The past week has been a period of transition for the club.
I wanted to address you [club supporters] directly to clearly set out my position and expectations for the immediate future.
After the developments of last week, my priority now is to bring some stability and calm to the workings of the club; perhaps a few smiles too.
I am absolutely committed to ensuring that the club continues this success.
I have met our manager Mauricio Pochettino and have given him my complete support to build on the good work that has already been achieved.
We have also said that we have no plans to sell any of the squad during the January transfer window.
Yesterday [Monday] I met the rest of the staff and gave them the same message of support.
Having inherited Southampton Football Club following my father's untimely passing, I am delighted and proud of the exhilarating period of success that the team and the staff has enjoyed these past few years, buoyed by the unstinting support of the fans.
Whilst such a definitive statement might strike a chord with Southampton's loyal support, it's unlikely to deter Jose Mourinho from flexing the Abramovich pound in Shaw's direction.
Given that the Saints have put a £30 million price tag on the player (per Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Star) it suggests that every player does indeed have his price, even if the chances of landing the player remain slim:
Chelsea retain a slim hope of snatching Southampton sensation: Southampton left back Luke Shaw has remained ti... http://t.co/uiNBwzkm5e— M.R.Ramadhan (@Real_MRR) January 22, 2014
To put such a fee into context, it would represent a new world record for a full-back.
Dani Alves is the current record holder after his £29.5 million move to Barcelona, but the Brazilian was already a well established La Liga and international player before he made his move to the Camp Nou.
Shaw is much sought after—both Manchester clubs are also rumoured to be interested in his signature—but he is still a teenager, learning his trade.
So, is he worth the outlay?
The table below, courtesy of Squawka.com, tells us that his performance stats compare favourably with current incumbents of the position, Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta:
|Player||Minutes||Total Tackles||Interceptions||Duels Won||Total Passes||Crosses|
At just 18, Shaw is as accomplished a performer as you will find at the top level and his all-round excellence belies his tender years.
Azpilicueta could well be the fall guy if the teenager were to arrive.
It's clear that Mourinho prefers the physical presence of Branislav Ivanovic in the Spaniard's natural right-back position, and there can't be too much doubt that the new signing will be first choice if he is signed.
However, time is against Chelsea with just eight days left of the transfer window. If the Blues want to secure the player, now is the time to show their hand and settle into some hard negotiations.
Luke Shaw could provide it.