Luke Shaw out? Jordi Alba in?
Southampton’s Shaw recently planned to join Manchester United, per BBC Sport's Ben Smith. However, the Red Devils may instead prefer to sign Barcelona’s Jordi Alba, according to Alex Harris of the Express.
Harris reports that United bid £27 million for Shaw last month, but the Saints decided they would not allow any transfers without a new manager in place.
Rather than deal with the uncertainty of Shaw’s potential transfer, United and manager Louis van Gaal have looked to Alba to ultimately replace 33-year-old Patrice Evra and help rebuild a defense that loses Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Harris writes, “Reports in Spain indicate that van Gaal has earmarked Alba as the ideal alternative with the player known for his ability to run from deep."
While it is still possible Shaw joins United, the Red Devils would be better served signing Alba.
Although Alba (25) is seven years older than Shaw (18), Van Gaal seems to prefer the Spanish left-back because of their prior experience together at Barcelona. When van Gaal was the manager years ago, Alba was an under-11s cadet at Camp Nou, according to Chisanga Malata of the Daily Star.
At 18, Shaw is seen as a terrific defensive prospect with vast potential. He is a very skilled dribbler and crosser and does a good job creating attacking opportunities. But Van Gaal and United should bring Alba, the more experienced defenseman, to Old Trafford.
Alba, who can double as a midfielder, is a better passer than Shaw and has speed few can match. The Spaniard is particularly good at intercepting the ball and keeping possession, two characteristics that are vital to a good defense and skills Shaw has struggled with early in his young career.
While Shaw may have greater long-term potential, Alba is a better left-back right now.
The Red Devils need to improve their defense, and they would be wise to sign the player who can best help them do so as soon as possible. That player is Alba.
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