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.

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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.”

Panama boss blunt and honest before nation’s World Cup debut

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez isn’t in the business of sugarcoating the truth before his team makes history by playing in its first World Cup.

The Central American team has trouble scoring and his players will need to have a good day to have any chance against Belgium on Monday, he said.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Blunt and honest, Gomez didn’t even hide his starting lineup, the normal way of doing things for coaches these days. And when asked if Panama could repeat Iceland’s upset against Argentina — the teams drew 1-1 on Saturday — the Colombian didn’t bother picking the right words when downplaying the Argentine squad.

“Iceland sent Croatia to the playoffs (in European qualifying), and it did well in the European Championship as well,” Gomez said. “It played against an Argentina squad which isn’t at the same level as Belgium right now. I mean, the distance between Iceland and Argentina isn’t as significant as the distance between Belgium and Panama.”

Gomez didn’t completely dismiss Panama’s chances of a surprise result against the Belgians, saying “anything can happen in football,” but admitted it wouldn’t be normal.

“It’s very clear that they are the favorites,” the 62-year-old coach said. “But each game is different, and if we have a good day, maybe we can achieve something.”

[ MORE: Where to watch Monday’s games, feat. England and Belgium ]

If Panama does find a way to advance past the group stage, Gomez said he already knows how he will be celebrating.

“I’ll drink two bottles of vodka,” he said laughing, before taking it back. “No, no … we are professionals.”

Gomez didn’t bother keeping his lineup a secret for the match in Sochi, naming the 11 starters without hesitating when asked about it. He even frankly talked about the formation his team would be playing Monday.

Gomez said Panama won’t be trying anything but defending against the talented Belgians, and admitted that scoring goals has been a weakness of his team entering the tournament.

“We’ve become strong on defense. It’s Panama’s virtue,” he said. “Panama isn’t a team that will score a lot of goals. We may create good chances in some matches, but we aren’t able to score. We arrive at the World Cup with problems scoring the goals.”

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

The 55th-ranked Panama drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland and lost 1-0 to Norway in its final warm-up matches before traveling to Russia.

It qualified for the tournament by finishing ahead of the United States in CONCACAF thanks to a last-minute victory over Costa Rica in qualifying.

Gomez said the team carries a big responsibility by representing the nation at a World Cup for the first time, and his biggest job is to get the players ready for the pressure they are about to face.

“The whole country is excited about this,” Gomez said. “I have to prepare the players mentally.”

Gomez has been coaching Panama since 2014. He was previously with Ecuador, Guatemala and Colombia.

Panama’s other Group G games will be against England on Sunday and Tunisia on June 28.

Maradona: Argentina drawing Iceland is “a disgrace”

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It’s been a pretty trying and criticism-filled 36 hours for Lionel Messi and Argentina, and that was already true before the World Cup hero that is Diego Maradona weighed in.

[ MORE: Where to watch Monday’s games, feat. England and Belgium ]

No longer are La Albiceleste simply known as the side that drew tiny Iceland — the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup — but now their efforts on Saturday have been dubbed “a disgrace” by Maradona.

It’s not so much the players whom Maradona, manager of the national team for the 2010 World Cup (quarterfinals appearance, beaten 4-0 by Germany), has gone after, but current boss Jorge Sampaoli for his lack of a proper gameplan befitting the opponent. As for Messi, who failed to convert a critical penalty kick, Maradona has absolved the Barcelona superstar of much of the blame — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all [6-foot-3] tall.”

“I get the feeling there’s an anger at the heart of the team.”

“I don’t blame the players. I could blame the lack of work rate. But I can’t blame the players, much less Messi, who gave it all he had,” said Maradona.

“I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona. I don’t think that they dropped two points because Messi missed a penalty.”

England squad reconnects with fans with image makeover

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VOLGOGRAD, England (AP) — Whatever happens to England at the World Cup, at least the reception facing the squad should be less brutal than it was in 2014 after its exit following the group stage.’

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

For once, the players can’t be accused of hiding away, retreating behind their headphones. The hallmark of England’s preparations for Russia has been shedding the past reticence to engage with the public, a calculated move by the team leadership to reconnect with a public disaffected by years of failure at tournaments and uninspiring performances.

“They appear more relaxed. They appear more normal,” supporter Gavin Hughes said, overlooking the Volgograd Arena where England opens its World Cup campaign against Tunisia on Monday. “They appear human. They are just lads playing football at the end of the day. That’s been the problem in the past. There’s more of a togetherness.”

A defining clip of the 2010 World Cup was Wayne Rooney bellowing down the barrel of a camera after a 0-0 draw with Algeria: “Nice to see your home fans booing you, that’s what loyal support is.”

That disconnect with the public has been bridged by the 23-man squad facing the media in a 45-minute, Super Bowl-style session before leaving for Russia. The English Football Association’s approach is in a marked contrast to club duty where they are largely closeted away, save for appearances with paying broadcasters or often in controlled appearances.

[ MORE: Where to watch Monday’s games, feat. England and Belgium ]

“We’ve done a lot for the fans on social media so they can see what we are up to, which has not always been the case,” captain Harry Kane said Sunday. “It’s important while we have free time is to try to let the fans know what we are up to.”

The public is seeing a new side of the players. Not only are they more relatable but painted in a more sympathetic light, beyond the caricatures of millionaire mercenaries just chasing more money.

“That connection with the supporters is really important,” coach Gareth Southgate said. “There have been perceptions about our players for a long time … so it’s been really good for our public to see how much it means to the players to play, to see a different side of their personality.”

In a move unthinkable in years gone by, when a since-departed FA official blocked Rooney talking about his Christianity, defender Danny Rose recently opened up on his problems dealing with depression. Publicly praised by Prince William for raising awareness of health issues, Rose realizes how players can use their new platform to show their human side and inspire others.

“A lot of people messaged me to say thank you, that they know someone who is going through this or has been through that and that I’ve helped them and given them the confidence to express themselves,” Rose said. “We have a lot of down time and I’m going to think of something to help others when I get back. I’ve got time to think while I’m here and when I get back from the World Cup about how I can go forward and help people.”

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

It’s not just about the players feeding a voracious traveling media pack with material. Kieran Trippier, who is also Rose’s club teammate at Tottenham, told the left back he appeared no longer burdened by a private plight in England’s last World Cup warm-up game.

“I was playing with a bit of freedom,” Rose said of the victory against Costa Rica. “I think he’s got a point.”

Southgate is credited with encouraging the warmer environment, far removed from the controlling regimes under Fabio Capello and Gary Neville, who was Roy Hodgson’s assistant for the dismal 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship last-16 humbling to Iceland. A bemusing, running theme in the British papers at Euro 2016 in France was the players’ refusal to divulge any details of a darts tournament. The squad has been overhauled by Southgate and it has even been playing darts with the media at the World Cup base near St. Petersburg.

Southgate has been playing his part, going to fan forums in the buildup to the tournament to recognize the commitment and cost involved watching England abroad.

“Sometimes those really good people who follow us are overlooked at the expense of some who have caused problems in the past,” Southgate said.

Ultimately, results dictate the public mood and England hasn’t won a knockout game at any tournament since 2006.

“It’s about how we perform,” Southgate said, “but there’s a bigger picture.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 5 — England, Belgium enter the fray

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The weekend might be all but over, but that doesn’t mean that 2018 World Cup action is slowing down anytime soon.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Monday, in fact, will be quite the opposite, as Group G giants — and a pair of popular dark horse picks — Belgium and England make their debut in Russia, taking on Panama and Tunisia, respectively.

Following Germany’s 1-0 loss to Mexico on Sunday, Group F is currently turned upside down on its head. Sweden and South Korea, who’ll face off in the day’s opener, are even more hopeful now than prior to the start of the tournament.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 18

Group F
Sweden vs. South Korea: Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Panama: Sochi, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Tunisia vs. England: Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET –LIVE COVERAGE