As Chelsea confirmed the £20 million signing of Filipe Luís, and with Luke Shaw already at Old Trafford, two of England’s biggest clubs- Manchester United and Chelsea will have new starting left backs for the 2014-15 season. With Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole widely considered as the best left backs in the past few years, the new signings have enormous boots to fill. So let us analyze which club has made the better deal. For a more clear detailed and clear analysis, I’ve broken down the transfers into several aspects- Statistics, Transfer Price/Long term Impact and Tactical fit.Statistics: Firstly, let us talk pure numbers. On a basic level, it may seem as though Luis has outperformed Shaw when their attacking statistics over the course of last season are compared. Luis managed more assists for his teammates and was very slightly more accurate with his passing.
However, Shaw was better at creating chances and also attempted more key passes per game. Plus, considering the disparity between the Southampton and Atletico attackers, Shaw will possibly contribute more servicing the likes of Van Persie and co.
Moving on to the defensive contribution, it becomes clear that Luis has an edge over Shaw- leading him in Tackles Won, Interceptions and Blocks.
|Appearances(League Only)||Tackles Won||Interceptions||Clearances||Blocks||Aeria Duels Won|
Tactical Fit: While both Luis and Shaw are the archetypal modern full backs, but they may have to play slightly different roles for their sides. Let us consider Luis first. Luis may not have been selected for the World Cup by Luis Felipe Scolari but make no mistake – Chelsea are signing an absolute gem of a player, as Atleti fans can painfully attest. As seen from his statistics above, he can perform both defensive and attacking duties with aplomb.With Atletico using hard working midfielders like Koke out wide, it fell to Luis to provide width. With Eden Hazard’s tendency to cut inside and dribble, he’ll have to perform a similar role at Chelsea. As Cesar Azpilicueta is a Right back by trade, he was far more reserved. Luis, on the other hand will be expected to contribute a bit more towards Chelsea’s attack. It is slightly more difficult to predict Shaw’s role in the United setup for two reasons- 1. We are still unsure on what formation Louis Van Gall will use and 2. With United’s transfer dealings far from over, we don’t know who will play in front of Shaw on the left wing. However, seeing United’s and Van Gaal’s past history, we can make a guess as to what role Shaw will have to play. If Van Gaal goes with a 4-2-31 or a 4-3-3 formation, Shaw will most likely play as a traditional left back like he did at Southampton. However, if Van Gall decides to use his 5-3-2/3-5-2 hybrid, Shaw will have to play as a wing back. Seeing his previous performances, it seems that Shaw is capable of filling both roles- the traditional left back and a wing back. All in all, both Luis and Shaw look more or less well suited to their respective teams’
Transfer Cost/ Long term Impact: One of the most prevalent factors in any discussion of longevity and value for money is, of course, age. And when 28-year-old Luis is matched alongside teenage Shaw, who is a decade younger, the maths couldn’t be simpler. If we take Ashley Cole as an example, a player who has faded in the latter stages of his career, Chelsea offloaded him this summer on a free transfer to Roma, aged 33. How long will it be before the same happens for Luis, when time catches up with his abilities and the Blues are back in the market for another left-back? Don’t get me wrong, though, Luis will be a solid signing for the Blues, but £20m is a big amount for Roman Abramovich to pay for a player who will soon be entering the latter stages of his career. On the other hand the £30m United paid for the services for Shaw seems an incredible fee for a player with only one proper season of Premier League football under his belt, in which his side finished mid-table. However, should he fulfill his potential, Shaw could ply his trade on the top level of European football for years to come. Shaw has the ability to prove his credentials on the grandest stage. And, at Manchester United, with Van Gaal in charge, there is no better place for the youngster to be in world football right now. Additionally,with Patrice Evra will departing the club, Shaw looks set to be handed a key role under the new regime. Playing at Old Trafford week-in, week-out will only help his progression in the coming years. Luis is 28-years-old, and given the physical demands placed on full-backs in the modern game, Chelsea will almost certainly have to replace him in a few years. In the end, Chelsea’s combined outlay for full-backs over the next few years could end up vastly outstripping Man Utd’s.
Conclusion: It seems the two clubs have gone about indifferent directions in replacing their Left Backs- while Chelsea want immediate impact, United have taken a long term approach. While on Luis might seem the better buy on paper and provide a greater initial impact, Shaw seems to be the better buy in the long run. Assuming he fulfills his obvious potential, he can be United’s starting left back for the next decade or so. United have paid for longevity—their intention is to spread Shaw’s fee across the next decade. And if they do, Shaw would’ve just reached Luis’ current age, but he would have cost a mere £11 million more. So while Luis will certainly enjoy success at the Bridge for a couple of years, Shaw, given his high upside, will prove to be the better deal in the long run.