Why Celtic-bound Liam Shaw is the last person to blame for Sheffield Wednesday exit
The frustration, in some quarters, has turned to anger.
And you can understand why. Sheffield Wednesday have lost their brightest young talent for a pittance yet again, with dynamic midfield man Liam Shaw set to move on to Celtic for a compensation fee believed to be around £300,000.
The reaction of Wednesday fans has been mixed, many laying the weight of blame on the club for allowing his contract to run down to the point that clubs outside of England. Many have been more pointed towards 19-year-old Shaw, a lifelong Wednesdayite reared through the academy system at Middlewood Road since the age of eight.
The comparisons have been made, to George Hirst and to Sean Clare, two youngsters to have left the Owls in recent seasons in similar circumstances that have been unable to yet make good on their undoubted ability.
Wednesday, it has even been suggested, provide a better route to a Premier League career someone of Shaw’s promise must surely be seeking.
But the evidence doesn’t stack up. A cursory glance down the list of outgoing Celtic transfers in the last decade reveals a raft of players who moved to Glasgow young before going on to play in the major leagues in Europe; from Jeremie Frimpong to Victor Wanyama to Moussa Dembele. Virgil van Dijk did OK out of them, too.
The fact is that aside from the Old Firm derbies and European football, aside from the opportunity to play for a European Cup-winning club in front of 60,000 people every other week, Celtic offers a clearer route to big league football than Sheffield Wednesday, where distant memories of Michail Antonio, Glenn Whelan and Chris Brunt are looked upon so fondly partly because of they are so rare.
Shaw has played on 17 times for Wednesday and it remains to be seen whether he has anything like the ability to replicate those names. But with Wednesday flailing in a relegation battle, their players are facing the possibility of a drop into League One that won’t be easy to climb out of.
Even if Celtic is the final destination, it’s likely to be a rosier, more financially rewarding one for a hot prospect that gets only one career.
The notion of stay-at-all-costs loyalty? Football clubs are fickle beasts.
If the sliding doors had not been pushed the way they have, had the coronavirus not played havoc with the fixture schedule, had injuries and the premature departures of a handful of key players not reduced the size of Garry Monk’s squad late last season, Liam Shaw could well be yet to make his debut for the club and could be facing the same fate that has fallen on countless promising youngsters past, released into the footballing ether.
The last Wednesday player to have attracted the batting pre-contract eyelids of Glasgow Celtic was another young lifelong Wednesdayite, Cameron Dawson, who instead signed a long extension to stay at Hillsborough this time last year.
With Keiren Westwood back in the fold and Joe Wildsmith having leapfrogged him since, you have to wonder if he’s wondering what might have been.
Sheffield Wednesday have lost out big on Liam Shaw’s move to Celtic. It’s a brave and ambitious move by an exciting young player. It hurts. But he’s not to blame.