Luke Shaw to Fight for Manchester United Place Amid Exit Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Luke Shaw of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on May 13, 2018 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw wants to become the first name on manager Jose Mourinho's teamsheet despite continued speculation about his future at Old Trafford. 

The former Southampton man has struggled to make an impression in the two years Mourinho has been at the club, prompting questions about whether he has a long-term role at United. But speaking about his prospects in pre-season, Shaw doesn't appear to have given up hope yet, per Sky Sports.

"There are opportunities for all the players, not just me," he said. "I look at it like that. The next five games are about fitness. I want to prove to the manager that I can be in his team. When everyone comes back, I still want to be the first name on the teamsheet. It's time for me to show him I can be in the team."

United made Shaw one the most expensive teenagers in football history when they signed him for £27 million in 2014. However, after a leg break in 2015, he's failed to recapture his best form and has made just 22 Premier League appearances in Mourinho's two seasons at the club.

With Shaw in the final year of his United contract, Rob Dawson of ESPN FC reported that the left-back is ready to leave the Red Devils in this transfer window if he can get guaranteed first-team football elsewhere.

As TheSportsman Transfers relayed, Shaw appears to have gotten himself into decent shape for the upcoming campaign at least:

TheSportsman Transfers @TSMTransfers

🏃‍♂️ Luke Shaw has finished top in all of the pre-season fitness tests at Man Utd. He's impressed Mourinho in training and looks to be given another chance with United. (📸 Insta @LukeShaw23) #MUFC https://t.co/LsoZniLcgr

It has been frustrating for United fans to see Shaw toil in the way he has, as the 23-year-old had a stellar reputation when he first arrived at the club.

Having shone for Southampton, it was no surprise to see an elite club make a move for the player. Early in his career, Shaw was a sensational outlet on the left flank, bringing energy and incision to the team with his forward runs.

Unfortunately, they have been rarely seen at United, with Ashley Young having since converted from a winger into a left-back—first under Louis van Gaal and then under successor Mourinho. Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News suggested last term that Shaw could learn from the veteran:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Testament to Young’s class he is starting #ENGTUN when he struggled to make the bench in Mourinho’s first season. Some #mufc teammates, namely Martial and Shaw, could do with his resilience.

With time running out on his deal at Old Trafford, this feels like a critical spell in Shaw's United career. It's no surprise to see him in decent shape and determined to make an impression; if he doesn't do so during this pre-season, he may have missed his last chance.

Mourinho has been critical of the player in the past and clearly doesn't trust him to be the team's regular left-back. For the Portuguese to change his mind, you sense Shaw will need to do something extraordinary before the 2018-19 campaign begins in earnest.