Manchester United have officially confirmed the signing of Southampton left-back Luke Shaw.
The high-profile transfer was initially announced by the player himself, who changed his Twitter bio to "Professional Footballer at Manchester United Football Club:"
He later deleted that bio, but now there can be no doubt after United's official Twitter announced:
United revealed the length of Shaw's contract, and provided the reactions of both the player and assistant manager Ryan Giggs:
Shaw joins after a stellar year with Southampton that earned him a World Cup call-up, and he arrives at Old Trafford expected to be preferred as first-choice left-back ahead of Patrice Evra.
Some fans will likely look at the transfer fee and balk. £30 million—as reported by Simon Jones of the Daily Mail—is a massive price to pay for an 18-year-old who has two years of top-flight experience under his belt. Of course, this deal was bound to be massive when United reportedly made a £27 million opening bid, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
The Saints were only going to drive the price up further from there:
Shaw is unquestionably a talented, promising defender, though. Combine that with inflated transfer fees and the premium placed on English players by English clubs and a figure in the region of £30 million doesn't look all that crazy.
Louis van Gaal is getting one of the Premier League's hottest names.
Prior to the 2013-14 campaign, Shaw was very highly regarded, but this past season, he saw a meteoric rise. He's been one of the best left-backs in the league, his stats comparable with veteran stars Evra, Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole, per Squawka:
Shaw's form was good enough to get a call-up to the 2014 World Cup squad, ahead of Cole, who then retired from international football.
It became pretty clear that Southampton wouldn't be able to hold on to him past this summer. Once a young player is linked with United and Chelsea, there's pretty much no going back. Plus, the transfer fee made it almost impossible for the Saints to turn the deal down.
This smashes the club's previous record for the highest transfer fee received. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left for Arsenal back in 2011 for a reported £12 million, which could grow to £15 million.
Southampton are no strangers to losing their best young players. They have a great track record when it comes to nurturing and developing emerging talents. Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott are two of the biggest stars to have moved on.
"The reason people look at our players is because the club does an excellent job developing them," club chairman Ralph Krueger recently said, per Simon Stone and Nabil Hassan of BBC Sport. "It should be difficult here every summer."
Shaw replaces Alex Buttner in United's squad, after Buttner departed for Dynamo Moscow. He will now compete with Evra for the left-back role, giving Van Gaal two strong attacking options down that flank.
Evra has shown signs of ageing over the past 12 months. He was still capable of making lung-bursting runs down the left flank last term, but he slowly became more and more deficient at the defensive end. He lacked the speed to get back from his attacking runs and left the flank exposed as a result.
That won't be a problem with Shaw, who's also cut from the marauding full-back mould. The Englishman is great going forward, and more importantly, he's quick enough to retreat to a defensive position when his team loses possession.
The Red Devils didn't have much luck in last year's transfer window, with Wilfried Zaha and Marouane Fellaini's arrivals arguably doing more harm than they did good.
That shouldn't be a problem with Shaw. United obviously need an overhaul on the pitch to move on from Sir Alex Ferguson, and that in part starts with the 18-year-old.
The future is certainly bright for Shaw. It's not far off to say that in four or five years he could be at a world-class level.
Expect him to be a part of United's first-team setup for a very long time.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!