Ryan Shawcross: The Ignored Solution?

Ryan Shawcross signed for Stoke for just £1 million in January 2008, and has gone from strength to strength since.

Shawcross made an immediate impact at the Britannia, and won the Stoke City Young Player of the Year award in each of his first three seasons at the club (2008, 2009, 2010).

He also deservedly picked up the Stoke City Player of the Year in 2014.

People talk about the visible difference in Manchester City’s defending when Vincent Kompany does or doesn’t play. We’ve all seen the stats, and there’s no doubt that the imposing Belgian is one of the best in the business.

But what about Shawcross?

In his last 13 appearances at centre back – since returning from injury – Stoke have kept an impressive 7 clean sheets.  It’s quite the contrast to the 10 games he missed, of which Stoke won just two.

The former Manchester United youth is now 28, and entering his prime. It’s hard to fathom that Shawcross, at his age, has just one English cap to his name, and that came all the way back in 2012.

Phil Thompson recently heaped praise on Shawcross, when speaking to Sky Sports;

“When Liverpool evaluate at the end of the season and look at the sort of goals they conceded, I wouldn’t be averse to see them looking towards Shawcross as a solution.”

“In fact I think he would be absolutely ideal and he’s been one of the most underrated centre-backs over the last five seasons. You just have to look at Stoke’s stats with and without him.”

Thompson’s reasoning was sound. Liverpool have conceded more goals from corners (8) than any other side in the Premier League this season.

They are lacking a dominant, consistent, combative centre half. Shawcross is Stoke’s captain, and a natural leader. He has just shy of 250 Premier League games under his belt. Surely it seems like a no-brainer?

It is not just Liverpool who would improve by signing Shawcross.

Many of England’s top clubs have been linked fleetingly with the Stoke captain, but no concrete bids have ever appeared.

He might not be as easy on the eye as John Stones, but he’s certainly a better defender at this time. He represents a throwback to older times. He is a tough battler, with a brave, never say die attitude.

In my opinion, all of England’s top teams bar Spurs (who have Alderweireld and Verthongen), could be improved by adding Shawcross to their starting eleven’s.

Why do Manchester City continually look abroad for expensive, often underwhelming centre halves, such as Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi, when a potential solution lies just hours away in Stoke-upon-Trent?

Man City could have moved for Shawcross in the summer, at a time when they seemed desperate to raise their quota of homegrown players. After all, they signed Sterling, Delph and Patrick Roberts in that same window.

What about Shawcross’ boyhood club Manchester United? Surely the Potters’ skipper would be a preferable option to Phil Jones or Daley Blind at centre back?

Laurent Koscielny still requires a consistent, reliable partner at his side. Per Mertesacker is a fine player, but his lack of pace will always be an issue, and Gabriel has been patchy since he signed for the club.

Chelsea have just announced that John Terry will be leaving the club at the end of this season. It has also been widely rumoured that Gary Cahill will be following his compatriot out the door at Stamford Bridge, which leaves a void at the heart of the defence. How many fierce, passionate, English centre backs are there with natural leadership thrown in for good measure?

It would be a shame if a defender of his quality never gets to experience the Champions League., or further international recognition.

Shawcross performances have been better than ever, and he still has several years left at the top. However, time is running out for a top side to build a defence around him.

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