If last summer taught me anything, it was not to get excited about any transfer, regardless of how certain it appeared to be, until the contract was signed and pictures were posted of the player awkwardly posing with our shirt.
Cesc Fabregas wanted to leave Barcelona and was interested in a move to United, yet the club opted to bid just £25 million for him. The club’s decision to release a statement on the situation though, confirming our desire to sign him, foolishly lead me to believe they would do all they could to wrap the transfer up. But no, Ed Woodward just wanted to make us look like a joke.
Thiago Alcantara wanted to leave Barcelona too and his father said he thought the midfielder should snub offers from City, Bayern Munich and Chelsea to sign for us. A release clause of £15m meant the deal was surely too good to be true. United are always looking for a bargain, or “value in the market” as Fergie used to say, so Thiago should have been the perfect transfer. We dithered though and Pep Guardiola swooped in, after David Moyes apparently passed on the chance to sign the midfielder.
Our negotiations to sign Ander Herrera were reported in the press and it looked as though finally we would be signing a quality midfielder. But the deal fell through and United claimed that “imposters” had been negotiating on their behalf.
Amongst reports of bids for all sorts of players in the closing days, including Sami Khedira, after United missed the deadline for wantaway Daniele De Rossi, it looked as though overpaying for Marouane Fellaini wouldn’t be the only business of the day. It was reported that Fabio Coentrao was Manchester bound, only for it to be announced after midnight that the paperwork hadn’t been filed in time.
So, when talk of Luke Shaw’s transfer was banded about, I tried to stay fairly detached from it. If it happened, it happened, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath.
Now that we’ve seen him there, beaming as he holds our shirt, speaking of his delight at signing for the “biggest club in the world”, we can relax a little.
The reaction to the signing was fairly amusing where rival fans were concerned though. Talk of him being overpriced and a massive gamble flooded Twitter and football forums. They can be relieved that it was us that forked out £27m then, and not them. Whilst we can be touched over their concern, you have to wonder why the deal has caused such a huge reaction. Could it be because we’ve just signed a fantastic young player who has the potential to be one of the best players in his position that this country has seen?
Shaw was voted by his peers in to the PFA Team of the Season, ahead of the likes of César Azpilicueta and Leighton Baines, after a fantastic season for Southampton.
Still only 18, he has picked up three caps for his country and nudged Ashley Cole out of England’s World Cup squad this summer.
United spent £27m on an English teenager ten years ago and for all the complaints we may have about Rooney’s disloyal ways, it’s hard to argue with what he’s achieved since signing for United. There’s every likelihood that when he retires he will be the all-time top scorer for both England and United, with his 9 goals short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s record for his country and 33 goals behind Charlton’s record for his club. At the time, Rooney’s transfer fee represented 60% of the world record transfer fee. Shaw’s now stands at 30%. Of course, you always expect to pay more for a striker than you would a left back, but when you consider PSG have just spent £50m on David Luiz, who is almost 10 years older than Shaw and, well, isn’t a very good defender, it should give context to what truly bonkers transfer fees are.
There were similar complaints when United signed Rio Ferdinand from Leeds. The £29m spent on him when he was 22-years-old isn’t like-for-like for Shaw is concerned, given he had already commanded an £18m transfer earlier in his career and was the youngest defender to ever play for England. But again, when you look back on his career, could you doubt that his transfer fee was certainly value for money? Six league titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, as well as captaining us to European Cup glory in the final against Chelsea in 2008.
It’s far too early, obviously, to start claiming that Shaw’s career will pan out in the same way. There’s the possibility he won’t develop in the way he’s expected to. But if he can cut it in the Premier League when he’s 18, prove himself to be the best player in his position, then it stands to reason he has a bright future ahead of him.
It’s also important to note that if Shaw goes on to spend the bulk of his career at United, there is further value in his transfer, with us not needing to replace our left-back a couple of times over the next ten years. Given how long our English players tend to stay, there’s every likelihood he will be here for a while.
All that said, there’s no denying that defenders rarely go for this sort of price, especially ones that are so young. But it’s hard not to feel optimistic about this deal and I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of, particularly when mentored by Patrice Evra.