By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Southampton prodigy Luke Shaw, Goal.com has learned.
The young left-back, who turned 17 in the summer, has been closely monitored by the European champions in recent months and he is set to be the subject of an offer ahead of the January window.
It is understood that Chelsea have identified Shaw as a potential understudy to Ryan Bertrand, with the prospect growing that Ashley Cole will leave Stamford Bridge.
Paris Saint-Germain are in the driving seat to sign the England left-back and have offered him a £150,000-a-week deal in a bid to sign him next year.
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has said that Cole will be allowed to leave the club on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season. There is a strong possibility he will sign a pre-contract with PSG and could even be off-loaded in the forthcoming window if Bertrand maintains the progress he has made over the last six months.
Shaw has been heavily scouted by a number of leading Premier League clubs, with Arsenal and Manchester City among the clubs who have made enquiries about signing him.
But the firmest interest has been shown by Chelsea, who made it clear to Southampton they would like to take the England Under-17 international to Stamford Bridge.
Shaw has been dubbed ‘the new Gareth Bale’ and is the latest star graduate of an academy which has recently produced Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as the Tottenham winger.
Shaw made his Southampton senior bow in January and has made seven further appearances for the first team this season, including his full debut against Stevenage in the League Cup in August.
The teenager, who has been with Southampton since the Under-9s age group, is highly regarded for his ability to convert defence into attack. He has been described as “technically very gifted” by Sir Trevor Brooking.