Saturday 16 December 2017

Neville: Luke can be Shaw thing for Reds

Ex-United star backs £27m teenager while Van Persie welcomes holiday

FORMER Manchester United full-back Gary Neville believes Luke Shaw will become a long-term triumph at Old Trafford following his summer transfer from Southampton.

Shaw joined United in a £27m deal last month to become the most expensive teenager in world football, signing a four-year contract that will keep him at the club until June 2018.

Neville is the 19-year-olds's coach with England and, having watched him at close quarters during this summer's World Cup in Brazil, he is struggling to contain his enthusiasm for what the future might hold for the Reds' teenage prodigy.

"I am trying to keep guarded here about the size of talent that exists in this footballer," Neville said. "You are talking about brilliant potential.


"The reason United spent £27m on a left-back at his age is because they see the huge talent and I can only endorse that talent. You have to watch him at close hand to realise that this is an incredible and hugely talented football player. Luke Shaw is fantastic."

Shaw has built a reputation as one of the Premier League's most exciting young stars as a result of his excellent performances with Southampton, where he was handed a first-team debut aged 16 before taking his top-flight bow a year later in the 2012/13 season.

Neville made his own United debut as a raw 17-year-old - against Torpedo Moscow in 1992 - and knows how difficult it can be to cement a first-team position. But he is convinced that Shaw's grounding at former club Southampton will help him settle.

"Luke did brilliantly last season in the Premier League and he did enough to warrant and deserve an England call," added Gary. "We were really pleased with him in the summer at the World Cup. We felt he did really well against Costa Rica on his full debut.

"United fans have got to understand - and this is not the boy's fault - that when you sign someone at that age for £27m, you don't get perfection straight away but you have to give him time and space to develop. Luke will need time to settle in, as any 19-year-old boy would coming to Manchester.

"I am expecting he will do well this season but you will see a really quite fantastic full-back in 18 months to two years. When he matures and gets used to the club and settles into the environment and understands the expectation he will blossom.

"I came through at 16-17 with the rest of my mates and we virtually lived in the football club. We knew the expectations. It was drilled into us. He is coming from a very good football club and a very good youth system but he is now at a giant of a club. The expectations are massive. But he will get used to that."


Meanwhile, United striker Robin van Persie is relishing the prospect of a well-earned holiday following his World Cup adventure with the Netherlands.

Van Persie started six of Holland's seven games in Brazil, scoring four goals as Louis van Gaal's side finished in the bronze-medal position.

Those statistics are made more impressive by the fact that he missed the end of the 2013/14 season with a knee injury.

Having flown home from South America, Robin is now looking forward to recharging his batteries while the rest of his United's team-mates - as well as his manager - travel around the US for this summer's Tour 2014, presented by Aon.

"I need the three weeks' break," van Persie told reporters. "The World Cup has been heavy going for me. I gave everything I had in every single game. That was it - I had nothing left. We worked really hard at the finals, and we are like lemons that have been squeezed dry."

Van Gaal, who has taken just two days off before starting work at United, has paid tribute to van Persie and explained why the talisman deserves a rest from football.

"We rebuilt Robin completely before the finals," the boss said. "If you take into account how far he has come and what he has achieved, you have to pay him the highest compliments."

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