It’s no secret that Luke Shaw is enjoying his finest season yet for Manchester United, which has been made even more impressive by all the upheaval he has faced at Old Trafford.
Devastating injuries and a less-than-cordial relationship with Jose Mourinho looked, at one stage, to have put the brakes on the left-back’s career, with his sky-high potential appearing unlikely ever to be fulfilled.
Yet this season Shaw has been a Lazarus in red, consistently putting in excellent performances which have left Telles with hardly a sniff of action – so much so that he may even pip Bruno Fernandes to the club’s Player of the Year award.
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While it’s abundantly clear to anyone with eyes just how crucial Shaw has become to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, some incredible stats have helped highlight his importance in black and white.
Although United put in a tepid display against Leeds United on Sunday, all but putting an end to their fledging title hopes, Shaw was again a bright spark.
Despite being a defender, he created a staggering 11 chances in the match, according to Opta Joe, a feat he had also achieved in the previous weekend’s win against Burnley. His tally for the season in the Premier League is 50, more than any other player in the division.
Perhaps even more impressive is that, according to WhoScored, Shaw has also created as many chances as Barcelona icon Lionel Messi this season, despite playing fewer minutes and, well, not being Lionel Messi.
While Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford tend to grab the headlines, it appears that none of them would have nearly as much joy in attacking areas if it wasn’t for the constant support of Shaw on the left-flank.
The fact that he is creating so many chances shows his growing importance to the United side and explains why they tend to look disjointed on the rare occurrences when he doesn’t play. It’s just a shame for Shaw that more of those chances created haven’t translated to assists, and with only six to his name so far this season you could argue that his teammates have let him down somewhat.
The stats are certainly impressive, but they don’t explain quite how excellent Shaw’s performances have been this year. His passing accuracy has improved and even if a move doesn’t end in him putting in the final pass, he seems to be involved in the majority of the team’s attacks.
The fact that he has such a presence in the attacking third of the pitch while rarely getting exposed at the back shows that it’s not just the forward-thinking side of his game that has improved either, he has raised his game defensively.
With speculation that a new contract could be in the pipeline for Shaw – his current deal is currently set to expire in 2023 – there isn’t a United player more deserving of one.