SCOUTING REPORT: Luke Shaw - Southampton

It’s well known. The academy at Southampton Football Club must be doing something right. Theo Walcott & Alex Oxaide-Chamberlain precede young Luke Shaw as the next big thing to come out of the Saints youth academy recently. Seventeen year old Shaw is very impressive, so far showing great ball control at a fast pace, poise in tight situations and a strong resolve and dedication to deal with the physicality of the premier league.

Talent coming up from the youth system, and going on to wear white at Wembley, are a bright spot in an otherwise bleak modern era so far at Southampton, after having been previously relegated from the Premier League in 2005. Before that time Southampton enjoy 27 successive seasons in england’s top flight.

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It’s not everyday you say a 17 year old oozes class, but the desire to do well comes off Shaw in waves. He seems like an everyday lad who just plays his football, but it’s easy to see that Shaw is someone who would one day like to see himself as one the best in the world. That’s the kind of attitude that gets rewarded the most and the most often in football.

No matter what happens to Southampton by the end of the season, it’s sure that Luke Shaw will be a Premier League player. Quiet speculation looms, Liverpool, Man Utd, and Arsenal are shuffling together funds. Shaw could be another piece to the puzzle.

Unlike most players which previously may have found themselves in a similar position, Shaw has many options that will help him grow on & off the pitch. Liverpool, Arsenal, and Man Utd are all brimming with english talent.

Arsenal, which is heavily known for it’s youth policy under Arsene Wenger, would add Shaw to maturing Wilshire, Kieran Gibbs, and Alex Oxaide-Chamberlain. It is still too early in Shaw’s professional career to tell if he will be a midfielder or defender, but he could help solidify the core of Arsenal’s side.

At Old Trafford, Shaw will have the opportunity to link up with the likes of established England international Wayne Rooney, and other england teammates in Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones. However, playing time may be harder to come by as Man Utd look to bolster their back line in the summer, and no player gets guarantees under Ferguson.

Shaw’s other option would be to link up with Captain Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, which is also once again boasting top British talent. Jordan Henderson is seeming more impressive with every passing week, as Brendan Rodgers continues grooming his young players. Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey, and Martin Kelly have been impressive under Rodgers. Liverpool has the youngest side in the premier league and the club is currently enjoying a transition period which has allowed many players to grow quickly. Shaw would come in already having the experience of playing regularly in a premier league season.

Some out there are calling Shaw the ‘next’ Gareth Bale, as his physicality, blistering pace and ability to control the ball are well developed at his age. He has the opportunity to play with the next Steven Gerrard and the real one if he plays for Liverpool.

All three clubs will probably enquire about the services of Luke Shaw as one of the first items on their agenda this summer. All three have questions in defense, and all three have more the achieve.

Manchester United at still dominant in the Fergie era, but it’s easy to seem their weakness at the back by conceding uncharacteristic goals the last two seasons. This doesn’t seem to deter them too much from being at the top of the table. This looks unlikely to change until Fergie stops mashing his gum in the dugout of Old Trafford.

Arsenal need to spend this summer to prove to their supporters them want to compete. With no guarantees of Champions League football next season, a lot of what Arsenal’s transfer policy wont be established until May. What is clear is that Arsenal fans are hungry for the silverware that’s just over the horizon. Luke Shaw might be another piece to get them there, but some Arsenal supporters are tired of waiting for young men to blossom.

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Liverpool are in just as a precarious situation as Arsenal, as they have failed to qualify for the Champions League since 2009. An entire rebuilding of the squad, which will result in only Reina, Gerrard and Lucas remaining from the Benitez era, may offer Shaw more opportunities to impress than perhaps with another team. If Liverpool qualify for the Champions League, they will surely look for more experienced players, but Anfield has always seen value in the type of attitude Shaw displays on the pitch. Liverpool tends to be a place where players are remembered for doing the big things right all the time, and the spectacular right on the occasion. Then, there are also the legends who are spectacular on their own.

It is almost a certainty Shaw will go if Southampton are relegated, as is usually the case with stand out players in a relegation side. He’s loyal to the club, but the Saints could be looking to secure their own financial future with Shaw’s sale. Shaw seems like an intelligent young man who is very mindful of the length of his career. He’s starting to carve a name out for himself. The future of English football looks bright, it’s been said before, but with a new generation playing alongside the most skilled players in the world. Britons never looked more poised for greatness. Look out world football for England & Southampton’s Luke Shaw.

Phil Jones - The Year So Far - Manchester United 2012 HD

Great compilation on Phil Jones. Song is a bit overplayed, but enjoyable nonetheless. It’s clear that a healthy Phil will be playing for Man Utd for a long time. Perhaps 10 or even 15 years in black and red.

He’s young, quick, and incredibly brave for his age. He’s still a young defender, there will always be a learning curve at the highest level, but his technical ability is there. He can play out of the back to link up with the midfield and forwards to start an attacking move. He can put in a decent cross, Phil Jones should not be ignored in an attacking area. He’s still a threat. 

I think the hardest thing for Phil Jones is the hardest thing for all defenders who have the ability to go forward: when does he go, when does he stay. I’ve seen Phil Jones get caught out a few times, usually when he’s way to far forward for a defender. But again, that comes from experience, that’ll come from years with Manchester United. That will come from learning from Rio Ferdinand and Vidic. Perhaps his tendency to move too far forward is just an expression of how much he wants to make an impact with the United squad

England fans should be very excited with Jones. The heart of the English back line is aging. This will most likely be John Terry’s last tournament, and Rio Ferdinand is wondering if he’ll even make it at all. Ashley Cole is Ashley Cole, and there are questions on the other side. Thank God for Gary Cahill, and the emergence of Jones’ United teammate Chris Smalling. Three years from now, England will have questions in defense. To be honest, they’ll have questions all over the pitch, but defense comes first. It doesn’t matter how many times you score goals if you concede just as many. England has been guilty of being distracted defensively in the past and have experienced the consequences.

Phil Jones has the opportunity to be one of the characters that receives the torch from an exceptional generation of players for both club and country. He is around fantastic people at Manchester United. He has the ability to be around all sorts of different players on the England squad. Jones seems the type to be testing his own ability and learning at the same time. That’s the sort of player you want in your squad no matter what. Another big test for Phil Jones on Sunday.

Jamie Carragher tells BBC why England fail in big tournaments, despite having some of the world's best players

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One mistake and you could be absolutely slaughtered,” the Liverpool defender told BBC Radio 5 live.

At your club, you know you will not be criticised as much and perhaps three days later there will be another game.

With England, it could be months before you have another fixture. There is a fear at times when playing for England.”

Carragher, speaking a year after England’s elimination from the World Cup, said players sometimes buckled under the media scrutiny.

"The intensity of the press does get to the players," said the 33-year-old. "Sometimes I think players would prefer the press guy to think they had played well, rather than the manager.”

  • BBC