Links between Southampton's Luke Shaw and Chelsea aren't new. The 18-year-old left-back is a natural target as the long-term replacement for the aging Ashley Cole.
By all appearances, it had looked like Chelsea would be content to wait until summer to make a move on Shaw.
Judging by the tone of Ashley Cole in a recent tweet, however, an imminent move may be on tap for Chelsea:
This comes less than a week after a report by Alan Nixon of The Mirror stated that Manchester United had made a £22.5 million bid on Shaw.
So, roll all of these things together, and the possibility of Chelsea swooping in for Shaw in the coming days grows. Even before the Mata deal, Martin Lipton of the Mirror felt that Manchester United's interest in Shaw could prompt a swift move from Chelsea:
The Londoners had been planning to wait until the summer to try to entice Shaw away from St Mary's, but the champions' move will prompt them to signal their own interest amid a determination not to miss out on Shaw, who has been earmarked as their long-term replacement for Ashley Cole.
With the cash received from Manchester United, Chelsea certainly have the resources to make a bold move for Shaw. In that instance, Chelsea should feel confident about their position in landing Shaw over the Red Devils. According to Herbert and Wallace:
[Manchester United] will need to outbid the west London side substantially if they are to secure the player’s services. Shaw, a Chelsea fan who played at the club’s development centre, is expected to be more open to a move to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea would appear to have the inside track here. Of course, Southampton may not care about any of this. Herbert and Wallace also pass along that "it is thought" that Southampton may not want to depart with Shaw to "show commitment to manager Mauricio Pochettino."
The speculation of a potential Shaw move is not lost on Shaw or Pochettino:
Shaw's value is certainly not lost on his manager:
That wasn't all the manager had to say on the issue, either. He put the following statement out there for the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to digest:
What else is Pochettino going to say, however?
I'm not trying to suggest he wasn't being forthright, but even if the club's intention was to sell Shaw, Pochettino would want his player to feel confident in his standing at the club, and he would want to do what he could to drive up Shaw's price.
As for all this interest in Shaw, the England Under-21 international is worth the fuss.
Despite his young age, he has a season-and-a-half of Premier League experience under his belt, and he's performed well in that time. He carries a 6.96 match rating in his 19 league appearances at WhoScored.com.
Shaw has shown some youthful mistakes and he has to add some muscle, but all signs point to him being an elite option at left-back for years to come.
Now, let's go back to Cole's comments. Perhaps Cole was commenting on an imminent move, or perhaps he was simply commenting on his shrinking role with the club. Whatever the case, he certainly is not comfortable with his future at Chelsea.
With a pocket-full of cash courtesy of Manchester United, Cole shouldn't be. Chelsea are going to bring in his replacement. It will likely be Shaw. The bigger question at this point is when that will happen.