After his big-money move to Chelsea in the summer, it was almost a certainty that Ben Chilwell would be England’s starting left-back at the Euros and had they gone ahead as planned in 2020, then he wouldn’t have had much competition. But Luke Shaw’s upturn in form over the past few months has been nothing short of spectacular as he has become one of the strongest players in the league one of the first names on Southgate’s team sheet.
After breaking in to the Southampton team at the tender age of 17, it was clear he was a very talented player and few were shocked by his move a year later to Manchester United for upwards of £30 million in a time where youth was increasing price tags all around the world. Had he been an immediate star, that price for a player who could play week-in, week-out for 15+ years would have been a steal. But a combination of being a target for Mourinho, a dip in form and confidence and a horrible leg-break slowed his development massively.
With the emergence of Brandon Williams and the signing of the (then) highly-rated Alex Telles, Shaw finally had real competition in his position and has thrived this season. Picking up 6 assists and a goal for his club, he is already having the most productive season of his career and looks set to break his personal record for most appearances in a single campaign. He has really added to his game with his ability to push up and support Marcus Rashford and the improvement in his crossing, now a necessary skill for full-backs, is impressive. Just check out his assist for Kane’s opener in England’s World Cup Qualifier win over Albania.
He is still only 25, so Luke Shaw has many years ahead in both the England and Manchester United teams and that’s testament to him for pulling himself back in to the fold. It’s easy to forget how damaging long-term injuries can be physically and mentally; football players are often looked at as superhumans who, once back from injury, should be displaying the same levels as they were prior to getting injured. But it just isn’t realistic to expect this from people who’s livelihood comes from being fit and being in peak condition. We can only hope that he continues with this upward trajectory in form and shines for England at the Euros and beyond.