Luke Shaw seeking to take this opportunity to prove himself to Manchester United and Jose Mourinho

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw is working hard to prove himself as ready for the new Premier League season. Earlier this summer, whilst on holiday in Ibiza, a rather unflattering picture of the 23-year-old donned the media in the United Kingdom. This brought abuse, ridicule, and speculation suggesting that the player had reached an impasse in his career. Just weeks later, after returning from holiday and spending some time in Dubai, Shaw looked like a different player as pre-season approached.

Four years into his United career, it is safe to say that everything has not gone to plan for the defender. Just before his double leg fracture, the 23-year-old looked destined to prove himself and show the value in his £30 million transfer to United from Southampton in the summer of 2014. Since recovering from the horror injury, Shaw has struggled to retain his fitness and more importantly regain the trust of manager Jose Mourinho.

Shaw now wants to make up for lost time and is determined to show Mourinho, his teammates, the coaches and the supporters just what he is capable of ahead of the new season. In the early hours of Friday morning (in the UK), United will play their first pre-season match against Mexican side Club America in Phoenix. Shaw will be seeking a place in the team for this match to show how far he has come in so little time. This will be a chance Shaw needs to take. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Shaw said:

“I look back over the last few years and I haven’t really had a massive run in the team. The year I broke my leg was the best year in my career at United. I felt really strong and good and obviously, it was unfortunate with the injury.

“It’s annoying for me to say I need to prove myself but I know what I can do and that’s why I’m still here. I’m sure that’s what the manager thinks because I don’t think I would still be involved right now if he didn’t believe in me. I’ve had a good chat with him and I’m looking forward to the season and getting back to my best.

“For myself, it was planned [to go out to Dubai to train] as I did it a few years ago with Adnan [Januzaj] and coming into pre-season it was the best I’d ever felt. I felt like I needed it [to go out to Dubai to train] because for the last few years I haven’t really had a proper full pre-season.

“A year ago today I was injured and doing rehab but I look at this year as being able to do a full pre-season and, right now, things are going really well and I feel really strong and good. I need to keep that up, not just now, but during the season and prove to people why I’m here.”

United have been linked with Juventus left-back Alex Sandro this summer and with reports still materialising of United’s interest in the Brazilian, along with those of French champions Paris Saint-Germain, the road ahead may not be clear for Shaw. The 23-year-old lost his place in the team last season because of the form of Ashley Young, who earned a place in the England squad ahead of the FIFA World Cup, being one of the stand-out names in the tournament.

If United do bring in Sandro, or another left-back, it could block the chances of Shaw, rendering him as a squad player in his last season at the club. It has been said that Shaw turned down a move to Everton in the past few weeks to prove himself at United and if he fails to do that, the player will walk away from the club as a free agent next summer, seeking to reignite his career. However, it may not all be negative, if Sandro or someone else did arrive, Young could play a more advanced role, as a substitute, leaving Shaw and Sandro to contest the left-back position.

Mourinho spoke to the official Manchester United website about opportunities this summer. Not just for him but for the players. United travelled to Los Angeles on Sunday evening with a 24-man squad, 13 of which were youth players having little first team experience. United are currently without 12 experienced players because of the World Cup, something which the manager confirmed could thwart their early season. However, David De Gea, Nemanja Matic and Fred will join the squad next week. Mourinho said:

“There aren’t just opportunities for me, there are opportunities for all the players. I look at it like that and I’m training hard and when the games come around – the next five are all about fitness, I want to try to prove to the manager that I can be in his team.

“And not just for these games… when everyone comes back and everyone is fit and ready, I still want to be one of the first names on the team-sheet. It’s time for me to show him over the next few weeks in particular what I can do and why I deserve to be in his team.”

It is an exciting time with all the quality available within the squad right now. Shaw needs to take this chance and show Mourinho and United that he is capable of the job in hand. He came from Southampton four years ago with lots of promise and potential, starting to show that just before a devastating injury struck. At 23, talking about potential is frustrating as it should be shown continuously both on the pitch and within training.

The coming days, weeks and months will be more important for Shaw than anything else during his career. Knuckling down and proving himself will be the plan and it will need to be the minimum the player comes up with. The player has received constant praise from United fans who seem to worship him, yet other players who have offered much more, seem to be vilified by the same so-called supporters. Shaw will know more than anyone else what he is capable of and what he needs to do to show that. After all this time, this is what he needs to do; knuckle down and kick on.

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