Manchester United can find permanent solution to Luke Shaw problem if they act on interest in Arsenal target

Manchester United could enter the race for Girona’s Miguel Gutiérrez

As reported by BBC Sport, Manchester United are looking likely to vie for the signature of Girona’s Miguel Gutiérrez this coming summer.

The 22-year-old has been a crucial part of the Blanquivermells this season, who under the tutelage of Miguel “Míchel” Muñoz have been the side to watch in LaLiga this season. Known for their attractive, front-foot style of football, they currently lie third in the league table with eight games left to play and are set to play in Europe next season.

Míchel likes his fullbacks to invert into midfield in possession and remain wide out of it, something that has been required of fullbacks in recent years by top-level front-foot-football coaches at a bare minimum.

On the left-hand side, Gutiérrez has shared his responsibilities with ex-United defender Daley Blind, who has been renowned for his positional flexibility and discipline throughout his career.

Manchester United could enter the race for Girona's Miguel Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez has produced one goal and six assists in 2,833 minutes across 33 matches in all competitions for Girona this season (as per Transfermarkt). (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Now, it’s not that the left-backs United currently have on their books are not good or positionally flexible, but neither of them is proficient to the levels Gutiérrez has demonstrated this season, in particular.

Moreover, the bigger issue with United’s left-backs is their availability—or the lack thereof.

Out of all of United’s defensive woes this season, no position has been hit harder than left-back. Luke Shaw was out with a muscle injury for three months in the first half of the season. He has been out with another muscle injury since February. Tyrell Malacia, having impressed last season, has not been seen since sustaining a knee injury in the pre-season. Sergio Reguilón, who was loaned in from Tottenham earlier in the season, failed to impress Erik ten Hag and was sent back to Spurs in January, who then promptly loaned him out again for the second half of the season to Brentford.

Manchester United could enter the race for Girona's Miguel Gutiérrez.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka started at left-back for Man United for their last game against Liverpool. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

United’s issues at left-back go far beyond this season.

United’s injury problem

In the long term, Manchester United’s availability issues at left-back can be traced as far back as Patrice Evra’s departure in the summer of 2014, which also coincided with Luke Shaw’s arrival.

Unfortunately, for all his talent, and even before the horrific leg break he suffered early in the 2015/16 season, Shaw’s career has been riddled with injuries ever since he arrived at Man United almost ten years ago.

In that period, up until the time of writing, Shaw has missed a total of 296 games for club and country. Turning 29 years old this summer, for all the talent he has possessed and the performances he has delivered in both United and England shirts to be regarded as one of the better left-backs of his generation, Shaw’s career will sadly be remembered more for the plethora of injuries sustained.

Alongside Shaw, Malacia’s almost year-long absence this season means United have neither of their main left-backs available. This cannot continue.

A wise move

Regardless of the availability status of their left-backs in the summer, the Red Devils would be wise to look for a long-term option in the market.

Shaw is currently out with a muscle injury, while a knee injury sustained in pre-season has left Malacia out of action all year. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

Shaw and Malacia may yet have crucial roles to play for the club in the coming seasons, but they cannot be solely relied upon based on what we have seen so far. Moreover, United’s highly-rated academy graduate Álvaro Fernández, currently on loan at Benfica, has failed to sufficiently impress Ten Hag so as to be able to earn a senior call-up for United.

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This is where Miguel Gutiérrez comes in. Girona’s 2023/24 campaign will remain historic regardless of how it ends, and Gutiérrez won’t come cheap. But given his age, profile, and the performances he has already shown, he has all the right ingredients to potentially solve United’s left-back problem for years to come.