Celtic after Liam Shaw: a Sheffield Wednesday youngster with potential

By Euan Davidson

January 29, 2021

Celtic are reportedly in talks to secure Sheffield Wednesday starlet Liam Shaw.

The 19-year-old Englishman joined the Owls at the age of eight [Sheffield Wednesday], and has broken into the first team at Hillsborough after a spell on loan at Chesterfield.

Shaw has been described by his club as “an athletic box to box midfielder with an eye for a goal and good technical ability”. With youth on his side, there are real hopes about Shaw’s development in Sheffield, but the lure of top-flight football and Europe may be too much to resist.

The Scotsman confirmed yesterday that Celtic were in discussions over a pre-contract deal. This is indicative of an overarching recruitment approach. Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Alfie Doughty have been targeted in an identical manner.

What does Shaw’s season so far say about his talents? And, what can the youngster bring to the Celtic first-team?

Celtic target Liam Shaw / (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Celtic target Liam Shaw: a playing profile

Shaw stands at 6’2″, offering real height in the middle of the park. As such, he’s a confident player in the air, winning 1.8 aerial duels per match over 9 Championship appearances [WhoScored?].

Confident on the ball, Shaw offers a real threat going forward. Across all competitions, the Englishman has produced one goal and one assist [Transfermarkt]. That output is directly comparable to Celtic wonderkid Ismaila Soro. Both are capable of making tackles and advancing the ball quickly, which would give the Bhoys real impetus in midfield.

His tackling can be rash, however. Shaw was dismissed after just 30 minutes against Reading in December [BBC]. That, of course, can be coached out of a player. Still, a sending off within 9 league games is a bad sign for his temperament and ability in the challenge.

His versatility is useful, though. While primarily a midfielder, Shaw has filled in at centre-back. Undoubtedly a problem position for the Bhoys, that kind of adaptability will be useful. Look at Nir Bitton: signed as a central midfielder, he has mostly played in the defence for Celtic over the last couple of years. In truth, that’s given Bitton longevity in his Hoops career.

Another troubling aspect of Shaw’s game is his passing. He is by no means a remarkable distributor of the ball, making an average of just 16.9 passes a game, completing just 72% [WhoScored?]. A problem for Celtic this season has been ceding possession and being hit on the counter-attack. At the moment, Shaw doesn’t improve that.

Uh oh. Shaw sees red against Reading. / (Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Shaw up against it from the off?

If there’s one position where Celtic don’t need to strengthen, it’s central midfield. Even though Scott Brown is due to leave in the summer, and Ntcham has gone AWOL, there are still plenty of talented players in the middle.

Shaw would have to contend with Ismaila Soro, Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic in the first team.

Meanwhile, Luca Connell, Scott Robertson, Ewan Otoo, Kerr McInroy and Ewan Henderson all represent youthful options. While their roles are different, there is still plenty of competition for Shaw, provided he joins the club.

He may be impressing in Sheffield, but he’s still a very raw prospect, and there’s literally zero guarantee of first-team football. One for the future, perhaps.