In a summer with no real signings of note, Manchester United are in danger of heading into the season both with the uncertainty of a new manager, David Moyes, and facing the prospect of not improving during the offseason.
And it's why Moyes should turn to one of his stars from his Everton days in defender Leighton Baines. It's time for Manchester United to get serious in their bid for the full-back with the brilliant left boot.
According to Sky Sports:
Everton boss Roberto Martinez says the 'one club' chasing Leighton Baines have made no fresh approach for the England full-back.
The 'club' in question are reported to be Manchester United, with David Moyes having returned to his former employers shortly after heading for Old Trafford in an effort to land one of the Premier League's most consistent performers.
Martinez admits a formal offer was tabled, but says the interested party made it clear that they were reluctant to be drawn into lengthy negotiations. With Everton having rebuffed the approach, there has been no further movement on the transfer front.
Now, I know what United fans are thinking—we already have Patrice Evra. Do we really need Baines?
Let's quickly compare the two:
|Player||Goals||Assists||Rating||Tackles||INT||Key Passes||Pass Success||Crosses|
All stats via WhoScored.com (Tackles, Interceptions, Key Passes and Crossing statistics per game)
One thing to keep in mind here—Baines is 28 years old, while Evra is 32. While Evra is still a very good player, he doesn't have several seasons left in his prime, while Baines most certainly does.
Here's something else to consider—in his EPL 100 rankings, Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe graded him as the Premier League's best left-back. I agree with that sentiment.
The pairing of Baines and Rafael at the full-back positions would make an already dangerous offensive squad truly frightening. The two would be deadly at getting forward and joining the attack, with Baines sniping from out wide with brilliant corners, crosses and set-piece beauties into the box, while Rafael joined the attack and made his runs into the box.
Baines doesn't fill any needs in the midfield, of course, where United need the most help. In that regard, teammate Marouane Fellaini might be the more logical buy. Heck, you could make the case that Moyes should try to lure the pair to Old Trafford.
But where Fellaini sometimes lacks consistency, Baines is the epitome of a solid, steady player. He has a definable trait—a left foot that could hit a hummingbird with a bean bag from 60 yards away—and he should be England's first-choice left-back for the 2014 World Cup.
Baines shouldn't be their only piece of business, of course, but when is a club like United restricted to buying solely for need? Baines is the best left-back around, and he would be an upgrade over Evra. With the link to Moyes, this is a move that should happen.
And as soon as United get serious and increase their offer, it probably will.