Arsenal and Liverpool have been alerted about the potential availability of Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s public criticism of the defensive duo.
Jose Mourinho’s short Manchester United reign has already seen a bit of everything; a brilliant start to the season was halted by a bruising defeat at home to Manchester City, which was followed by a string of poor results both domestically and in Europe.
In addition to the Red Devils’ issues on the pitch, Mourinho’s public shot at the defensive duo of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw has added to the club’s worries. The Englishmen allegedly ruled themselves out for the game against Swansea last week, which did not go down well with the former Chelsea manager. The Portuguese lambasted the duo publicly, indirectly questioning their commitment to the Manchester United cause.
The incident, which was discussed at length on social media by fans and pudits, has given rise to speculation about the future of Smalling and Shaw. The Daily Mirror now claims that United’s Premier League rivals Arsenal and Liverpool have been alerted of the possibility of a transfer involving either or both of the beleaguered defenders.
While Smalling has been linked with Arsenal in the past, Luke Shaw could interest both Arsenal and Liverpool. Arsenal have Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs as their options in the left-back position, while Liverpool have been using James Milner in that role due to Alberto Moreno’s inconsistency.
In Arsenal’s case, Monreal is in his 30s, and Luke Shaw, who would be an upgrade on Gibbs, could hold down the left-back position at the Emirates for the next decade or so. As far as Liverpool are concerned, even though James Milner has performed admirably in his new position, Klopp would surely love to secure the services of a natural left-back, particularly one with the prodigious talent of Shaw.
Arsenal have been looking for additions in central defence, but a move for Smalling seems unlikely given the promising centre-back partnership between new signing Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny, with options on the bench in the form of Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista.
According to reports, the camps of both players — especially Luke Shaw — have been left unimpressed by Mourinho’s public display of outrage, considering that both players have been struggling with injuries in the current season.
Also, the decision of the duo to back out has been vindicated to an extent, with Smalling speculated to be out for 4 weeks now, while Shaw has not travelled with England during the international break.
While Arsenal and Manchester United have had transfer dealings in the recent past, transfers between Manchester United and Liverpool have not occurred. The rivalry between the Red Devils and the Reds has brewed much hatred between the two sides, which means that Manchester United are unlikely to let Shaw go to their rivals.
On the other hand, the rift between Mourinho and Arsene Wenger is well known in the footballing world and the Portuguese is unlikely to provide any ammunition to the Gunners in their title chase.
It remains to be seen if Mourinho’s public outburst genuinely affects the futures of Shaw and Smalling at Manchester United, or whether the duo can win back their place in the Portuguese’s first team plans.