INEOS must be ruthless and purchase a left back to relegate injury-ridden Luke Shaw to bench – Man United News And Transfer News

INEOS must be ruthless and purchase a left back to relegate injury-ridden Luke Shaw to bench – Man United News And Transfer News

Manchester United have been plagued by injury all season, but no position has suffered more than that of left back.

After an impressive first season under Erik ten Hag, it looked like Luke Shaw was back to his best and new recruit, Tyrell Malacia, proved to be reliable back up, with a couple of highly credible performances, most notably in the 2-1 home win over Liverpool.

With highly-rated Alvaro Carreras coming through the academy, United seemed they had one position sorted for the foreseeable future. Wrong.

It was announced before the pre-season tour of the United States began that Tyrell Malacia had picked up a knee injury that has been shrouded in mystery ever since. Despite numerous reports that the player was close to a return throughout the season, it was finally revealed that he will most likely play no part in the rest of the current campaign.

Furthermore, Luke Shaw has only been available for 15 matches this campaign after picking up a muscle injury in August which saw him miss 92 days and he was hurt again last month. The United coach also revealed that the player only has an “outside” chance of making the last games of the season.

Carreras has also been sent on loan, first to Granada and then to Benfica, where his playing time has been minimal so far.

Logically, the Red Devils are very concerned about this particular position and as a consequence, they have bumped the left back position up the priority list according to well-respected journalist Fabrizio Romano, as they aim to definitely buy one this summer.

The question is, should this new left back be a backup replacement for Malacia or should it be someone who can relegate Shaw to a support role?

In defence of the Englishman, he is incredibly important to how United play and when he is on form, United tend to do well.

The Athletic have already justified the 28 year old’s importance to the Old Trafford side by stating, “the England left-back is not only their best defender in wide areas, he is also vital to how Ten Hag’s team progress the ball between the two penalty boxes. Shaw’s left-footedness is essential to Ten Hag’s tactics and the Dutchman values the passing angles and defensive orientation this brings”.

Furthermore, the player has developed a strong on-pitch connection with Marcus Rashford and it is possible that one of the reasons behind the forward’s poor form this season could be to do with the little game time Shaw has had.

The two England stars clearly work well together on the left with Rashford often finding Shaw on overlap runs. Rashford has spoken of the relationship they have claiming, “it’s something we’ve had a lot of time to work on and grow into understanding each other’s game”.

However, the player is 28 years old and the unfortunate reality is he has never shaken his persistent injury problems. He is in his 10th season for the club but has only pulled on the red shirt 275 times. Compare this to Bruno Fernandes who is in his fifth season for the club but has already played 222 times for the Red Devils.

Whilst the England international did only miss 13 days due to injury last season, this is sadly the exception to the rule. He has already racked up 117 missed days in this campaign and missed 85 days in the 2021/22 season.

In fact, the player has not been available for selection a scarcely believable 1223 days since he signed for United. Whilst the data is skewed a little from his serious leg break in 2015, the player on average misses 122 days a season.

Add to this, when the former Southampton player does play, he is hardly a model of consistency. As mentioned previously, when he is on top form, he is fantastic and objectively one of the best full backs in the league. However, he often isn’t. And at 28 years old, it is hard to imagine this will ever change.

Therefore, INEOS must be ruthless and aim to bring in a left back who will take Shaw’s place as first choice. The Red Devils have been linked to high level options such as Miguel Gutiérrez at Girona and Alejandro Balde at Barcelona.

Both players are young, Gutierrez at 22 years old and Balde at 20, yet have sufficient top level experience to be considered viable first choice options.

Moreover, Shaw would offer incredible depth as a backup and could be a major help to the new left back’s settling in period. United’s very own Jonny Evans is an example of a player who has been injury-ridden in the recent past, but with playing less and managing game time, has been a very valuable signing for the Mancunian team.

It stands to reason that if Shaw is not made to put his body through so much, especially with the physical rigours of being a modern day fullback, he will be injured less. A Balde or Gutierrez playing 35 games a season and a well-rested Shaw filling in for 15-20 games sounds like an exciting prospect for United fans as a way to solve at least one hole in the team that every passing day seems to more resemble a colander.

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