The 25-year-old has been a dominant force in this season’s most efficient and tight defensive unit under manager Tony Pulis and the centre-back has now put pen to paper on a £45,000 per week deal worth £13.5 million in total.
Whilst that may be a record-breaking and, likewise, bank breaking salary for Stoke City, that figure is significantly less lucrative than the wages of players at Manchester City or any of the other top four clubs for that matter.
Shawcross has been linked with a move to the Etihad but instead opted to stay put at the Britannia where he has developed into one of the best young defenders in the country since moving from Manchester United in 2008.
However, within the context of the modern game – the so-called ‘mercenaries’ with pound signs flashing in their eyes, and the oligarch-owned clubs for whom money is the route of all success – Shawcross’ decision to sign up and repay the faith shown in him by the club, the manager, and the fans that have given him the opportunity to develop in the first-team and the support and understanding while he learned his trade, makes him somewhat of an anomaly in an otherwise increasingly heartless industry.
He could have held off contract negotiations until the summer and waited to see who was interested in him, he could have either forced Stoke to sell him to the highest bidder, or improved his offer from the club with a small measure of brinksmanship.
He chose to honour his club, his manager and his fans with loyalty – a term increasingly becoming part of an obsolete vernacular in the modern game, along with terms likes respect and integrity.
He could have made a big move in the summer, signed for big money to a big club where he’d have been surrounded by big egos and big babies in front of big crowds and grabbed big headlines. Clearly, he’s a modest man and would prefer to make a modest fortune, at a modest club with modest means, and why?
Shawcross is one of those rare breeds – a relic of times passed – that wants to play football. Rather than be utilized as part of a ‘squad rotation’ system, he wants to be the first name on the team-sheet and he wants to take pride in putting in a shift every minute of every game for his club until he’s 30.
Has Ryan Shawcross made the right decision? His bank manager will whole-heartedly disagree but, yes, he has.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald