United and Shaw or Liverpool and Lallana - which is the better deal?

Luke Shaw and Southampton players

In Shaw and Lallana, two of England's top talents are moving on this summer. We look at whether Manchester United or Liverpool are doing the best business.

With Southampton selling two of their prize assets to two of the Premier League's biggest clubs, an age old playground/workplace/Twittersphere discussion can easily take place between fans of Manchester United and Liverpool - namely, who has gotten the strongest deal?

Naturally, there are significant cases for both sides. Spending £25 million or more on a player is always going to provide the buying team with an individual of genuine quality, 

United's signing of Luke Shaw has already been completed. The left back, still just 18-years-old, has joined for a fee mentioned as anywhere between £27 million to £30 million. Though raw in his talent, he has already demonstrated considerable promise in his 18 months playing in the Saints first team, and spectacularly, did enough to convince Roy Hodgson to drop Ashley Cole for the World Cup, a player many six months ago would have considered one of the best left backs in the world.

Shaw has all of the attributes to be the next great English defender: defensively sound, strong, quick, skilful, and good in the air. It is ironic that the left side of the field, traditionally a weak part of the English side before Cole's arrival, now looks set to have two top players coming through successively, while at right back and central defence there is an absence of that level of quality.

Doubts about paying so much money for an 18-year-old are easy to put forward, but clearly players as capable as Shaw, as young as he is, should be worth far more those with the same quality but seven or eight years older. He is a particularly apt signing for United, given that the left side of the defence was a problem area for them last season, and Patrice Evra's contract extension doesn't cover over the fact the Frenchman isn't quite the player he was, and will likely wind down his career over the next couple of years or so.

To put it simply, United couldn't have bought a better left back at Shaw's age if they tried, because the former Southampton man is the world's best in that position, and for his age.

Now before United fans get ahead of themselves, let's look at Adam Lallana's move to Liverpool, again for a reported fee of around £25 million.

The midfielder leaves a club he has gradually grown at over his last six years, with his most successful season yet seeing him accumulate 10 goals, 6 assists and coming just behind Mesut Ozil (and ahead of Steven Gerrard) in terms of total assists created.

Given his age, 26-year-old Lallana is about to come into his peak years as a player, and if his year on year improvement carries on next season, he should comfortably be Champions League quality.

His creativity is sure to be a bonus to whichever top class striker he is playing with, and the fact he will be heading to Liverpool alongside Southampton teammate Rickie Lambert should ensure both settle in that little more quickly.

Lallana's versatility will be of great benefit to a side about to experience a big increase in the amount of fixtures they will be playing this year compared to last. Capable of playing on either wing, in the number 10 role, or even as the most attacking midfielder of a more central three, Lallana regularly proved for Southampton last year that he could he influence games wherever he was playing. 

It is clear that both teams have managed to sign a top class player to vastly improve their squad. United will receive a player already one of the league's best in his position, yet with the potential to go on and become the very best in the world. That word, potential, is dangerous though, and as the club have seen with Phil Jones, things don't always progress as rapidly or inevitably as they seemed likely to. Liverpool on the other hand are about to receive a ready made technical star of a midfielder, highly thought of as one of the most skilful Englishmen around and on the cusp of coming into what will be his prime footballing years. His versatility is a huge bonus to the system Liverpool employ, and his canny passing abilities are in line with the way Brendan Rodgers likes to play football.

With it that hard to pick a winner out of United and Liverpool, it's probably best admitting a draw and  instead acknowledging that the real losers in this are Southampton, even if they are being emphatically reimbursed.

But let us know what you think in the comments below, which is the better signing?

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