Manchester United's rumoured pursuit of Alex Sandro should be welcomed by the club's supporters.
The Porto left-back, who has become a first-team regular since moving to the Estadio Dragao in 2011, is being touted as David Moyes' target now the hunt for Leighton Baines appears to have stalled, per Daniel Jones of the Metro.
Although Sandro currently possesses a weaker all-round game than Baines, and will need to work hard if he is to adapt to Premier League football, the 22-year-old's acquisition is a better choice than plucking Baines from his position as a firm favourite at Goodison Park.
Developing Star vs. The Finished Article
Moyes recently suggested he intends on honouring the United tradition of giving youth a platform to shine on, per the club's official website. At 22 years old, Sandro's natural spring and insistence on bombing up and down the flank would become a key weapon in United's quest to regain fast-paced, entertaining football.
Baines is seven years older than the Brazilian starlet and has been at the peak of his powers across the last few seasons. He is fully developed, well-rounded and would slot straight into Patrice Evra's spot, but shortly after his 29th birthday, Baines represents the obvious option.
The Toffees full-back is also likely to decline across the next couple of years, suggesting United will once again be forced to replace an ageing player for a younger talent before too long. Despite being better suited to United's game at the current time in his career, Baines' ready-made qualities are far riskier than investing in Sandro.
Bryan Oviedo—who is currently filling in for the injured Baines at Everton—has helped Roberto Martinez's team look increasingly solid at the back and has even contributed going forward, hinted at by Tony Scott of the Liverpool Echo:
Although Baines has nearly a decade of Premier League football under his belt, Oviedo's performances show he isn't irreplaceable.
Sandro has proven himself across more levels of the game. The improving player has sporadic international appearances to his name, much like Baines, but can boast two years of Champions League football since heading to Europe.
Sandro is also a proven winner. He has silverware to his name in Brazil and Portugal, while he was also an important part of the national sides that won the South American Championship and FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2011.
Despite his individual success at Everton, the only team trophy Baines has won throughout his career is the old Second Division of 2002-03, a feat achieved with Wigan Athletic.
Once again, while the Everton hero would slot in more easily, it's Sandro's potential as a future winner and star that makes him a more viable prospect.
Moyes Needs to Define His Own Manchester United Era
Moyes' only Old Trafford signing so far came in the form of Marouane Fellaini. As many will know, the hefty £27.5 million investment has failed to pay off so far.
Like a potential deal for Baines, Fellaini was grabbed from Everton. Bill Kenwright's club showed they wouldn't be bullied into letting the Belgian leave for cheap, a mindset that will reappear should United start firing figures over for Baines.
Fellaini was undoubtedly a safe, knee-jerk and ultimately boring non-solution to United's midfield problems.
Moyes has already proven that, despite enjoying a successful relationship with Fellaini at Everton, stomping over old ground doesn't necessarily laud a positive response, and in fact, makes him far more open to criticism for showing a lack of ambition.
The experienced manager needs to define his own Manchester United era by breaking free of his successful stint at Everton.
His consistency without landing a trophy at Goodison Park has the ability to shackle expectations at the Premier League champions, and at this stage in his tenure, supporters want to see forward-thinking, exciting talents who can grow into world stars.
United Crying Out for Sandro's Qualities
Although Evra's form across the last year has been decent from an attacking view, the Frenchman constantly gets caught out of position and leaves his team exposed at the back.
United need a player who can cover ground quickly for 90 minutes, but also someone who is smart in possession, can pick a pass and can pull off accurate crosses from the byline. While Southampton's Luke Shaw should be taken into consideration with those attributes in mind, Sandro's effectiveness in the tackle currently outweighs the Saints youngster.
Which left-back should Moyes prioritise signing in January?
The Brazilian is excellent at using his body to give himself the upper hand in difficult situations and possesses the instinct to make up for mistakes with a quick readjustment of position. He needs to learn when to commit with a run up the pitch, but his gung-ho style of play is perfect for a team that traditionally attacks down the flanks.
Prioritising Sandro over Baines will show supporters Moyes is truly committed to investing in youth and has the guts to build a squad that strays away from obvious acquisitions from his former club.
While many fans will be hoping to see new talent in midfield, Sandro's presence at the club would define United's image, ambition and statement of intent during Moyes' entire reign.