Rio Ferdinand has hailed Luke Shaw’s importance to Manchester United following his outstanding display in the Red Devils Manchester derby success.
Shaw has enjoyed a fine season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this term and produced arguably his best display of the campaign in the 2-0 win over rivals City at the Etihad on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect saw their 21-match winning run brought shuddering to a half by the Red Devils, thanks to an early Bruno Fernandes penalty and Shaw’s second-half strike.
That was only the England international’s second Premier League goal for United since arriving from Southampton in 2014.
The 25-year-old has endured something of a rollercoaster career at Old Trafford since joining for £30million during Louis van Gaal’s tenure.
Certainly injuries have played their part, while there have been crisis’ of confidence along the way too.
But Shaw he re-emerged under Solskjaer and is perhaps playing the most consistent football of his career this term.
Now, speaking on his Vibe with FIVE podcast, the former England defender was full of praise for Shaw, highlighting similarities between his game and former teammate Patrice Evra.
“I think Luke Shaw is very similar. Between the boxes, Patrice was the best left-back of our generation," said Ferdinand.
"He could drive up the pitch on his own with the ball, I’ve not seen anything like it in between the boxes.
"But in their box, did he pick out people as much as Ashley Cole maybe, or Leighton Baines? No. And was he as good defensively as Ashley Cole? I’d say maybe not.
"By the way, in both boxes, aerially, he was brilliant. Patrice was a brilliant player. I see a little bit of that in Shaw – between the boxes, he’s unreal.
"I think in seasons gone by, you could throw at him in terms of his application, he looked a little bit off the pace, a little bit lazy at times.
"We have to look at where he’s come from mentally by the way, this is a kid who looked like he was on the scrap heap of Manchester United.
"Mourinho discarded him, the kid was a broken man.
"He’s come back from the depths to being one of the most important players at Man United, so you have to commend him for that.”
Indeed, Shaw's underlying stats back up Ferdinand's assertion about him between both boxes.
Only Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes have completed more passes in open play that lead directly to a shot than the left-back, while only the Portuguese has more shot-creating actions – "the two offensive actions directly leading to a shot", according to Statsbomb data – than Shaw's total of 81.
Only Fernandes has more key passes – passes leading directly to a shot – than Shaw too, while the left-back ranks No.3 at United for touches in the final third this season in he league; again behind only Rashford and Fernandes.
Of first-team regulars, only Harry Maguire progresses the ball upfield further, in terms of distance per game, than Shaw also, while only no-one averages more carries per 90 minutes into the opposition's final third than his 3.3.
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