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.”

Herrera: Ibrahimovic competitive drive insatiable in everything

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Ander Herrera is dishing the goods on his Manchester United teammates while on Spain duty this week, and was asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swede is a fierce competitor on and off the pitch, which Herrera jokes is an ever-present challenge to personal patience.

[ MORE: Deulofeu laments early Messi talk ]

It almost seems like there’s a bit of envy that Ibrahimovic can charge into public comments the way Herrera goes into tackles.

From Marca:

“[Ibrahimovic] is a genius, he’s very intense because he wants to win everything, even football-tennis,” Herrera said to Radio MARCA.

“He assumes this role of doing or saying what he likes in front of the media because he does not care, he can say that he’ll score 30 goals or is the best because he can afford to.”

There’s certainly something to stature when it comes to saying what you feel (though on the other hand, being egotistical is rarely controversial. It’s not like Ibrahimovic is often railing on controversial soccer or social issues).

We’re sure there are plenty of players across all sports, casual and professional, who don’t understand hyper-competitive teammates, but we love a guy who doesn’t turn it down when it comes to on-the-field activities. Hopefully Ibrahimovic is the Jaromir Jagr of soccer.

Gerard Deulofeu calls early Messi comparisons “detrimental”

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Players often like to brush off speculation or criticism in the moment by claiming they don’t read stories written about themselves, but we all know better.

Former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu confirmed that sentiment by citing specific comparisons he remembers as a youth with Barcelona, citing stories that compared him to Lionel Messi. Now 23 years old, Deulofeu reflects on those early comparisons and wishes the media wasn’t so quick to jump to conclusions about his career.

“In the end, [the comparisons] were more detrimental than beneficial,” he told weekly magazine Forza Milan. “Normally I don’t read newspapers, but that headline I remember well. It created too much expectation among Barcelona fans. There’s only one Messi.”

With expectations high, Deulofeu made just six senior team appearances without a goal or assist before loan spells at Sevilla and Everton saw him out of the club permanently. His time at Goodison Park was up and down as well, with his ability to dazzle a crowd punctuated by long spells of invisibility, failing to earn himself a consistent starting role.

Deulofeu is now on loan from Everton at AC Milan, looking to revitalize his career. He has started every league game since arriving, and has picked up a goal and three assists in 11 matches. There is speculation he could end up in Milan on a permanent basis this summer, but he’s not focused on that right now.

“My future? It’ll be seen to,” Deulofeu said. “My sights are in the present, from experience I know it’s best to leave the past behind and focus on the present. We’ll see what happens in the future. For now, I just want to enjoy the good time that I‘m having at Milan.”

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)