Why 18-year-old Luke Shaw is worth the $60 million Manchester United are paying

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On Friday Luke Shaw completed his move to Manchester United from Southampton for a deal in excess of $60 million.

The 18-year-old left back, who has just returned from the World Cup with England and is set to be the Three Lions’ first-choice for many years to come, is raising plenty of eyebrows with his price tag as he becomes the most expensive teenager in soccer history.

Shaw is worth every penny.

Having been fortunate enough to be around the conveyor-belt of talent Southampton’s academy produce and watch the rise of superstars Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale close over the years, one thing is clear to me. At the age of 18, Shaw is light-years ahead of both Walcott and Bale when they were his age.  They have both go on to be superstars with the Arsenal’s, Tottenham’s and Real Madrid’s of this world. Shaw has the potential to be even better than Bale. Let that sink in. Shaw’s potential is frightening.

[ RELATED: Shaw completes United transfer

Like Bale, Shaw has shone as a teenager for Saints as a left back. Now Bale plays in a much more advance role in attack for Madrid and Shaw could perhaps replicate that with his surging runs, extreme pace and eye for a cross. He can also score plenty of mean free kicks, watch this video, and like almost every other player who has been produced by Saints’ academy, he has an old head on young shoulders, is down to earth and has an admirable attitude to the game. He has never seemed out of his depth or fazed by big occasions and his maturity on the ball and in possession is sublime.

In this excellent piece by a good friend Jeremy Wilson who writes for the The Telegraph in the UK, he profiled Shaw’s rise from high school hero to Premier League superstar all in the space of about 12 months. In that piece we found out how Chelsea, Arsenal and every top club in London wanted to sign Shaw as a youngster but then turned him down. Plus, details have since emerged about how the likes of Arsene Wenger kept tabs on Shaw’s development since he signed for Saints at the age of 9.

Shaw is something special, a player who has already got two seasons of Premier League experience under his belt at the age of 18 and has taken to the professional game like a duck to water. Now with United, expect him to spread his wings and soar to the greatest heights the game has to offer. The sky is the limit for Shaw.

United splashing out $60 million on a teenage left back doesn’t seem so daft now, does it?