£27 million Manchester United youngster must start taking risks

Luke Shaw

Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw has great room for improvement if he wants to have a fruitful future with the club.

The world's most expensive teenager has had a mixed start to life at his new club. Since leaving Southampton and joining United for £27 million, possibly rising to £31 million according to the BBC, things haven't all been plain sailing for 19-year-old Luke Shaw.

Injuries and fitness concerns have been his biggest pitfall in the seven months since he put pen to paper at Old Trafford, and they have severely impeded his ability to get a consistent run of games in Louis van Gaal's new-look United side. Thankfully for United, their young hopeful has appeared in each of the club's last four games and appears to have put such concerns behind him, but there is something else that seems off with the full-back.

Last season with the Saints, Shaw was without doubt the Premier League's best full-back. For someone of his tender years he was equally as brilliant offensively as he was defensively, and that was a trait that encouraged United to splurge so much cash on the player in the first place.

His performances in a red shirt though have been somewhat different. In the unpopular 3-5-2 system that van Gaal is persisting with, Shaw has frequently been deployed as a left-wing back which could possibly be hindering him. He just hasn't looked as comfortable in attacking situations as he did in Southampton's impressive side last season.

It's true that with the Saints he had a wide midfielder as support in attacking moves so he had the added benefit of being able to overlap without too much difficulty. At United in the current system he hasn't had the same luxury and has instead been faced with the difficult task of beating the opposing full-back by himself.

Rather than try to get past his man, on too many occasions the England international has opted to cut inside and passed the ball to a midfielder or defender. This is concerning for someone whose left wing-back responsibilities include being able to attack and provide balls into the box effectively. Cutting back a few times is fine, but too often and it slows down and stagnates the play.

Obviously we don't know whether or not Shaw has been instructed to play in this manner; so far van Gaal's philosophy has been very risk averse which isn't always too pleasant to watch. You could consider Shaw's Southampton form last season risky at times, but that's what made him so exciting to watch as he was playing unrestricted and without fear.

If the United boss is going to continue to use the wing-back system then at some stage Shaw is going to have to adapt and offer more of threat going forward. Fortunately for him he has age on his side and will certainly be offered more than enough time to prove that he can boss the left side of United's line-up for years to come.

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