David Moyes is planning a late spending spree that could bring as many as four players into Old Trafford for as much as £77 million.
So said a report in The Sun (subscription needed) on Saturday—a day after Moyes’ €30 million approach for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera was rejected by the Basque outfit.
But the Manchester United boss may try again to land the talented 24-year-old, and he is reportedly looking to another Spanish club as he attempts to both add depth to the left-back position and minimize Patrice Evra’s playing time.
On Friday, the Spanish outlet Marca reported that United had become the “latest” club to show an interest in Fabio Coentrao, adding that the Portugal international had “asked to leave Madrid” and that his wishes had been respected by both the club hierarchy and manager Carlo Ancelotti.
“With all three parties in an agreement,” the article read, “all that is missing is a good offer for the full-back, because Madrid have made it clear that it will not sell unless there is an offer of more than €20 million on the table.”
Manchester City paid a similar amount for Aleksandar Kolarov in 2010, and in that light, the signing of Coentrao would represent a decent piece of business for Moyes.
It would also be a better acquisition than Leighton Baines, who has been repeatedly linked with a move to United and a reunion with his former Everton boss since Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in the spring.
Baines, at 28, is three years older than Coentrao, who has won league titles in both Portugal and Spain while Baines has toiled, albeit impressively, for a middle-of-the-pack side at Goodison Park.
Physically, Coentrao is also the superior left-back. Standing three inches taller than his England counterpart, he is the better of the two in the air and, while predominantly left-footed, can turn effectively onto his right as well.
Where Baines has the advantage is in his set-pieces and ability to read the game in the attacking third. Defensively, however, Coentrao averaged two more defensive actions per match than Baines last season (statistics courtesy of Squawka.com), passed the ball at a slightly higher success rate and placed more of his shots on target.
In the end, Moyes may be forced to choose Coentrao, anyway, as it’s unlikely Everton will part with both Baines and midfielder Marouane Fellaini. And as Everton manager Roberto Martinez has reportedly approached former club Wigan over the services of James McCarthy (Daily Mail), it would seem he’s more willing to part with the Belgium international than his star left-back.
Herrera, meanwhile, is still available, but only if United trigger his €36 million release clause.
“We have told [United] we are not negotiating over players,” Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia told Marca on Friday. "[Herrera] has to be released from his contract with the sum that features in his buyout clause.”