England are into the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup and the likes of Jude Bellingham, Harry Maguire and Harry Kane have been handed a fair amount of credit for their impressive performances. But if there’s anyone whose performances have been silently excellent, it is Luke Shaw. The Manchester United left-back has shown his exceptional abilities in possession, as he has been extremely vital for the Three Lions in terms of progressing and keeping the ball.
As per FBRef, only one player in the World Cup so far has played more progressive passes than Luke Shaw and that is Lionel Messi himself. He is three clear of France’s Aurelien Tchouameni, who has had a very impressive tournament himself. Shaw has played seven passes into the penalty area for the Three Lions – more than any other player for the side.
The mark he has made is influential but the fact that only Maguire has made more touches on the ball than Shaw shows that England’s build-up revolves around the technical ability of the two. But the fact that the ex-Southampton man has had an influence in the final third as well reflects on his completeness as a footballer – something even United know of, considering how well he has performed for the Old Trafford side.
Shaw’s average positioning (via Sofascore) also shows his positional versatility and his adaptability as a footballer, as he is often seen to be playing the role of a third centre-back and as an extra midfielder, which aids in building from the back. And these qualities make him a perfect fit for a modern-day football system. Considering how France operate with a blistering front three that operate on the counter-attack, England could well be using a more cautious approach and Shaw’s versatility will make him a key player in that game.
Kaustubh Pandey | GWFN