Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Michael Owen has told Luke Shaw to "join a really big club" this summer in a bid to get a head-start on the next stage of his development.
The 18-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to becoming one of England's most respected full-backs over the past year, and Owen believes the time to leave St. Mary's is now, per Colin Harvey of the Daily Star:
I think it's always good to keep progressing up the ladder and to play at the highest standard. And once you have had the experience that Luke Shaw has had in the Premier League, I think you are certainly ready for that challenge now.
Having had the first-team experience he has, and now going to a World Cup, I'd say he is more than ready to join a really big club - if Southampton let him go.
The ex-England international is all too aware of what it means to bear the tag of "prodigy," having burst onto the Premier League scene at the age of 17 in 1997 before going on to debut for England a year later.
And like Owen, Shaw will travel to his first World Cup at the age of 18 this summer, named as part of Roy Hodgson's squad for the tournament in Brazil.
The London-born teenager is still in amazement at the fact he's managed to book a place in the roster, per the official Southampton Twitter account:
It's a difficult choice for one so young to make. With Ashley Cole seemingly on his way out of Stamford Bridge when his Chelsea contract expires this summer and Patrice Evra presumably following an identical path at Manchester United, Shaw could take his place in the starting XI of either club.
But the Saints have been good to the youngster in advancing his development thus far, and the prospect of making such a massive leap in standards could threaten to derail that progress.
Ex-Southampton great Matt Le Tissier is unsurprisingly one who feels Shaw should remain on the south coast for now:
United's need for a new senior left-back is greater than Chelsea's, who have seen Cesar Azpilicueta fill in well on his unnatural flank while Cole has been out of form for periods of this season.
The Express' James Dickenson has even gone as far to claim that the Red Devils have already launched a £27 million bid for the defender, indicating how serious they are about sealing his signature.
The advantages of a quick deal would have United in favour of completing the transfer prior to this summer's World Cup, after which the club may face increased competition for his talents.
Owen's example is one Shaw may choose to mimic himself, but with the world currently at his feet, it's understandable that the player may seek patience before making his decision.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!