EXCLUSIVE: Luke Shaw speaks out about Manchester United move

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The most expensive teenager in the world. Check.

The youngest player to play at the 2014 World Cup. Check.

It has been quite a summer for England international Luke Shaw. Now, the 19-year-old has just begun life as a Manchester United player following his $55 million move from Southampton in June.

[RELATED: Why Shaw is worth $55 million]

Shaw is currently in Los Angeles as United prepare for the 2014-15 Premier League season with new manager Louis van Gaal at the helm for their U.S. tour. A busy man, Shaw took some time out to chat with ProSoccerTalk about how his record-breaking switch to Old Trafford played out, being the youngest player at the World Cup, his new gaffer van Gaal and much more.
This was Shaw’s first chat with the media since sealing his monster transfer to one of the biggest team in the world.

After playing 60 times for Southampton in the PL and making his England debut at the ripe age of 18, Shaw had plenty of suitors chasing his signature this summer. But when he found out United were in for him, the youngster made sure his move to the Red Devils happened.

“It’s great. When I found out they were interested in me I didn’t think twice,” Shaw said. “Manchester United are the biggest club in the world. When I found out they wanted to buy me, I spoke to my agent, he got in touch with Southampton and it got done. I am really excited and happy to be here.”

[RELATED: Shaw becomes most expensive teenager in history]

After flying out to LA with United for their tour — that kicks off on Wednesday night against the LA Galaxy before glamour games against AS Roma in Denver, Inter Milan in Washington D.C. and Real Madrid in Michigan — Shaw has only been in training for a few days. Already settling in well, the young left back revealed that the chance to work with van Gaal was a big plus in signing for United, as he was impressed with his track record of developing top class youngsters at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the past.

[RELATED: Full details of United’s U.S. tour]

source: AP
Shaw’s powerful running and impressive defensive displays saw him shine with Saints last season.

“I’ve only been here two days, we’ve had two training sessions and the manager has been working on what formation he wants to put in. It has been quite tough but I expected that when I first came back to preseason,” Shaw said. “He seems like a great manager, he is straightforward and wants to get the best out of the players. That is something that is good for me so hopefully I will improve under him. One of the important things for me was that I heard he was good at producing younger players. He likes playing younger players and he has faith in them. That was another big thing for me, that he will give youngsters a chance.”

Giving youngsters a chance is all well and good, but United are coming off the back of their worst season in PL history. A seventh place finish last term means no UEFA Champions League soccer to look forward to, plenty of players being let go and most importantly: no trophies.

That’s something Shaw is determined to put right.

Should United, the team who have won 20 English top-flight titles, be aiming for more trophies this season?

“Of course,” Shaw said. “You look at the season we had last season and everyone here wants to improve on that, to try and win trophies. That is what we are going to be aiming for. First thing for us is to have a good preseason, get everyone fit and raring to go for the season. This season, we want to come back as the Man United everyone once knew. Hopefully we can do that, push on and win some trophies.”

Just 12 months ago, Shaw was in Southampton’s first-team squad preparing for his first full season in the professional game after coming out of their famed academy. Now he’s in L.A. with Manchester United and looking forward to playing against some of the biggest teams in the world. This is “Roy of the Rovers” stuff. It really is.

source: Getty Images
Shaw, 19, was the youngest player at the 2014 World Cup.

“We are playing massive teams like Real Madrid,” Shaw said. “Last season, no disrespect to Southampton, but we would have been playing Championship and League One teams and now to come to the U.S. and play against teams like that is something I dreamed of when I was younger. I just can’t wait to get going.”

Sometimes when teenagers who are purchased for huge sums of money at such a young age, the pricetag becomes a burden and gets in the way. However the dollar signs are far from Shaw’s eyes as he brushed off the fact that he’s the most expensive teenager in soccer history. He is four times more expensive than Gareth Bale was at his age, and almost three times more expensive than the fee United paid for Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2003.

Shaw isn’t bothered about that… but he is impressed with the hype and attention United have gotten so far on their U.S. tour.

“About the transfer record, I don’t pay too much attention to that. I just focus on my football,” Shaw said. “As soon as you come to America you can see how big the fanbase is… I’ve heard it’s even crazier in Asia! In America it’s big and it means a lot to me to be a Manchester United player.”

As we mentioned, Shaw was the youngest player to play at the World Cup as he started and played the full 90 minutes in England’s 0-0 draw with Costa Rica in their final group game. Sadly, for Shaw and the Three Lions, England had already been knocked out by then. He admits the entire team was shocked by their early exit but that the experience will hold him in good stead for the future.

“It was an unbelievable experience, but such a shame that we got knocked out so early,” Shaw said. “Nobody really expected that. It came as a shock. Although I was happy to play in the last game. It was great to play in the World Cup, the biggest stage in football. That’s something I want more of and hopefully now that I am at Man United, if I keep playing well then I will get more chances like that.”

There’s no doubting that. With United’s legendary left back Patrice Evra sold to Juventus on Monday and his back up Alexander Buttner already leaving United this summer, Shaw is set to start at left back for one of the biggest teams in the world when the Premier League season kicks off on August 16th. He is not fazed, but he is still trying to get his head around the fact that he now gets to call the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata his teammates. Remember, he’s only 19.

“There is a lot of quality in the dressing room. It is crazy,” Shaw said. “Two years ago I was watching them on telly and now I am going to be playing in the same team as them. It is crazy. For me to still be 19 it is something I am really looking forward to. For me to be able to train with them everyday, it will keep improving me as a player and a person. I am really looking forward to the start of the season.”

While PSG has won the title, Areola’s playing for his future

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PARIS (AP) Although Paris Saint-Germain has easily won the French title, Alphonse Areola still has plenty to play for.

The next four games could be crucial in deciding whether PSG keeps the goalkeeper or tries to sign a big name in the transfer window, possibly Thibaut Courtois. The 25-year-old Areola is the same age as Courtois, but has nowhere near the international standing of the Chelsea keeper.

[ MORE: Turkey hands bid plans to UEFA for EURO 2024 ]

It is hard for Areola to stand out, however, in a team noted almost singularly for its attacking prowess. While PSG has already scored more than 100 league goals, and remains on course to reach 100 points this season, Areola has rarely been talked about.

The common perception is that PSG will thrash teams in the French league, so letting in a goal or two is irrelevant.

However, Areola has been one of PSG’s most consistent players this season, and last Sunday he made a personal record of eight saves in a 1-0 win at Bordeaux.

He was also one of the few PSG players to come through the loss to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League with any credit. Without Areola’s shot-stopping, and particularly his bravery rushing off his line, the 5-2 aggregate loss would have been bigger.

With 104 goals, PSG’s attack is the best in the league by far and has netted 25 more than deposed champion Monaco.

But PSG’s defense is also the best and Areola has conceded only 21 goals in the 31 he has played. Although PSG has dominated most of those, losing only twice all season, he has still made on average four saves per game.

Having replaced Kevin Trapp as No. 1, Areola has missed only three league games all season. It represents a reversal for both.

When Trapp was signed by former coach Laurent Blanc in 2015-16, Areola went on loan to Spanish club Villarreal. He established himself as regular in Villarreal’s side and gained further experience in the Europa League. Spanish media were largely impressed by his consistency and his agility on the goal-line.

He returned to PSG and battled with Trapp for the starting position last season. But coach Unai Emery seemed unsure who he really preferred, with Trapp starting 24 games to Areola’s 14. PSG ended up losing the title to Monaco.

But the hierarchy is much clearer now and the error-prone Trapp, once hailed by Blanc for his passing out from goal, is the one expected to leave.

Areola has further incentive to do well with the World Cup coming up. He is challenging Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to be France’s No. 2 behind Hugo Lloris in Russia. For now, Areola is a squad member but has yet to make an international appearance under coach Didier Deschamps.

But he has done well at every level for France, starting with the under-16s a decade ago. He got his first taste of international success when he helped France win the Under-20 World Cup in 2013.

While Paul Pogba was one of the stars of the tournament, Areola’s crowning moment came in the final itself. France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and he saved two shots in the penalty shootout. Prior to the shootout he had a word with France’s designated penalty takers, confidently telling them “do your job and I’ll do mine.”

With Emery almost certain to be replaced next season, it promises to be a frenetic offseason of buying and selling at the club.

But whoever replaces Emery should perhaps think twice before letting Areola leave. The Parisian-born Areola came through the youth ranks at PSG, as did center half Presnel Kimpembe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

Star-studded sides like PSG often import their best players and fans are happy to see them arrive, because it shows ambition. But they nevertheless identify more closely with homegrown talents such as Areola.

More AP Ligue 1 coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Ligue1

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Infantino has ‘full confidence’ in Samoura amid ethics issue

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA President Gianni Infantino says he retains “full confidence” in secretary general Fatma Samoura after an attempt to embroil her in an ethics investigation.

[ MORE: Turkey hands in bid plans to UEFA for 2024 EUROs ]

Samoura has expressed irritation at “totally ridiculous and baseless” claims she broke FIFA rules by not declaring an alleged conflict of interest in the 2026 World Cup bidding contest.

FIFA has not specified the exact nature of the complaint or the progress of any ethics investigation after it was alleged she was a relative of former Senegal player El Hadji Diouf, who is an ambassador for Morocco’s bid.

Samoura insisted on Wednesday the former Liverpool forward “is not a member of my family and therefore everything is crystal clear.”

FIFA’s top administrator received a public show of support from Infantino.

“I can confirm my full confidence in Fatma Samoura to lead the FIFA administration,” Infantino said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The former United Nations official was hired by Infantino in 2016 months after he was elected as Sepp Blatter’s successor.

Morocco is due to take on a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico in the June 13 vote for the 2026 World Cup host.

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.