A stat went viral in recent days – that Luke Shaw has created as many chances this season as Lionel Messi.
When Shaw faced the media at yesterday’s press conference – streamed on the club’s official app at 1pm – he was keen to praise a teammate.
Fellow full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has improved his attacking output this term, something Shaw wanted to point out.
“I think a full-back nowadays needs to create a lot and do as much as they can to help the team,” said Shaw.
“Not just me, but Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] on the other side has been brilliant for us and creating a lot of chances himself too.
“So, I think a full-back nowadays, first and foremost we’re defenders, we need to defend but I think a lot of the game nowadays is full-backs flying forward.
“It’s something I personally enjoy doing trying to help the team as much as possible by creating chances and hopefully adding a couple more goals to my game.”
How is Wan-Bissaka really doing?
A glance at FBREF’S comparison between Shaw and Wan-Bissaka’s Shot Creating Actions (SCA) shows the former Southampton man has created over twice as many chances – 102 to 50.
But it should be noted that Shaw takes United’s corners. Taking those out of the equation, Shaw remains ahead but the battle is closer – 63 to 43.
That underlines that Wan-Bissaka has some way to go to match Shaw, but he isn’t a million miles off either.
Shaw is playing at a genuinely elite level too, something that few full-backs anywhere in the world can match.
And comparisons with some domestic rivals provide a decent target for Wan-Bissaka to hit too.
England rivals Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold create 2.15 and 2.13 chances from open play per 90 mintes. Wan-Bissaka’s figure is 1.39.
Part of that is because the pair are granted more attacking freedom by their managers – James even plays as a wing-back for Chelsea which gets him higher up the pitch.
Of course, as you’d expect, Wan-Bissaka leads Shaw, James and Alexander-Arnold in terms of tackles per game (3) and he is improving the attacking side of his game, as Shaw says.
The former Crystal Palace man knows there’s more to come and Shaw – who is playing the best football of his United career seven years after he joined in 2014 – provides the perfect inspiration to help him get there.
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