Manchester United Transfer News: United Lead Chelsea in Race for Luke Shaw

Danny CollinsFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

England's Luke Shaw plays against Denmark during their international friendly soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

Manchester United are beating Chelsea and Real Madrid in the race to sign Southampton starlet Luke Shaw, according to Gary Jones of the Daily Star.

The 18-year-old left back has had a barnstorming season on the south coast, threatening to dump England stalwart Ashley Cole out of Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad. Reports until now had suggested that he may do the same at Chelsea. But as reported by James Dickensen of The Express, Jose Mourinho's interest in Shaw has cooled. 

That leaves the door open for United, who are expected to announce Louis van Gaal as their new manager this week, per Sky Sports. And the bookies are certain that the Old Trafford club will land its man, as Jones reports:

Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid have all been linked with a move for the £25m-rated youngster, but bookies have placed United firmly at the front of the queue.

Odds are now being offered with the Old Trafford favourites to land Shaw on at 1/3, ahead of Chelsea who are rated at 5/2 and Real Madrid on 28/1.

Shaw has yet to find the net for the Saints, but his defensive prowess and ability to beat his man has impressed many commentators who see him as English football's shining light. United have a track record of developing young English players that is absent from Chelsea, and that is likely to be a key factor behind Shaw's decision. 

One only has to look at a United line-up including Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to see that Old Trafford places great faith and loyalty in its youngsters. And Shaw could easily usurp those players.

Stan Collymore is certainly in agreement that this has been a breakthrough year for Shaw:

It is testament to the precocious talent of Shaw that Real Madrid are reported to have registered their interest, as reported by Darren Lewis of The Mirror. While a glamour move to the Bernabeu to join fellow Brit Gareth Bale is not an impossibility, Shaw is likely to face the choice between Manchester and London. 

A boyhood Chelsea fan, Shaw had looked a certainty to join Mourinho's ranks. But a steep price tag, as is so often the case with young English talent, has abated the Portuguese's interest. The emergence of Cesar Azpilicueta as a reliable full-back is likely to have reaffirmed Mourinho's belief that a move for Shaw is unnecessary. 

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

The same cannot be said at Old Trafford. 

Jason Burt of The Telegraph reports that Patrice Evra is likely to leave Old Trafford for Inter Milan. The move will come as part of an expected mass clear-out of United's ageing squad. 

The irony, then, is that Evra in his final Manchester United appearance will face his likely replacement when Southampton host United on Sunday.