Manchester United

Manchester United Transfer News: Alexander Buttner Should Be Club's Choice at LB

BANGKOK, THAILAND - JULY 13:  Alex Buttner #28 of Manchester United argues a call during the friendly match between Singha All Star XI and Manchester United at Rajamangala Stadium on July 13, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2013

Sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don't make.

It was no secret that Manchester United made moves for Leighton Baines and Fabio Coentrao before the summer transfer window closed.

It's a surprise that left-back was prioritized so heavily when the club already has Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner.

The 24-year-old Dutchman has gone on record to talk about how happy he is to be a United player (h/t De Telegraaf via the Daily Mail's Adam Crafton):

On Wednesday I had a good talk with Moyes. He told me that I had come far enough to play for Manchester United this season. He absolutely wanted me. I am a full-fledged United player for him. Last season obviously turned out to be a good one for me. And that was noticed by the club as well. That they want to talk about my contract is an appreciation of me.

Between Evra and Buttner, the Red Devils have more than enough to mount a title challenge on both domestic and European fronts. Nobody has really been watching Manchester United and thought that if they only had a better left-back, everything would be all right.

You could see why David Moyes might want to move on from Evra. While still a solid player, the 32-year-old has been on the decline for the last few seasons.

Why would the answer to this problem be spending £20-plus million on Baines or Coentrao?

Baines is going to turn 29 in December, so he's got a maximum of three years before he starts to decline. Meanwhile Coentrao is kind of stuck in that early Sergio Ramos mode, where he looks more like a winger who happens to dabble a little at left-back.

Buttner has only been at Manchester United for one season, making 13 appearances across all competitions. That's much too little time to have already reached the decision that he's not good enough to start for the club in the future.

In the short time he's been on the pitch, Buttner has looked like a defender who will be more than capable to be a first-choice player for a club like Manchester United.

He's not afraid to get into a tackle, which can be a good and a bad thing. You want your defenders to get stuck in a bit. The key will be to make sure that Buttner's tackling doesn't become more a liability than an asset.

Far from being just a destroyer at the back, the young left-back also likes to get forward. His crossing still leaves a lot to be desired, but he's getting himself in the right positions to provide some width down the left flank. That's what you really want to see from a young player, more so than his crossing.

Having an experienced player like Evra can be a boon for Buttner. The French left-back can take the youngster aside and teach him how to balance those defending and attacking duties, or at the very least, Buttner can watch on the training pitch and see how Evra plays and learn that way.

Then, when Evra is either moved on or dropped from the starting XI, Buttner is right there to be the long-term replacement. By that time, he will have continued to develop and become a much more polished defender.

Buttner will be proof that throwing money at a problem isn't always the most sensible answer.

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