The latest in an ongoing list of South American stars to have come through Porto's ranks, Alex Sandro has found his star rising considerably in 2013, drawing interest from numerous European giants.
However, one such club with whom the Brazilian international has become most closely associated is Manchester United, who are very much in the hunt for a left-back who can eventually replace Patrice Evra.
That being said, while Baines stands as the more experienced of the two—not just in years but in terms of the division's playing style—the Porto defender is a higher risk but potentially higher reward asset for David Moyes to consider.
Sandro arrived in Portugal in 2011 after impressing with Santos and Atletico Paranaense during his youth development, Porto reported by Jones to have paid £8 million for his services.
In any case, the European giants stand to once again make a good profit from their investment should United indeed come lurking this winter. Porto are in no need to sell at this present moment considering the 22-year-old has another two-and-a-half years remaining on his contract.
What's more, the Press Association (h/t FIFA.com) reported at the time of the left-back's departure that Sandro's contract came complete with a €50 million release clause. Of course, should Porto deem a smaller bid sufficient to sell the player on, it's different matter, but the ball is most certainly in their court.
Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas has been impressed by the starlet:
@osvaldogarcia Alex Sandro didn't play as he was suspended. And yes, he is a very interesting player.— Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) December 20, 2013
In November, the Mirror's David McDonnell reported that Baines, 29, would cost the Red Devils a pretty substantial £16 million this winter. One major positive to the veteran's arrival would be that Everton's lack of European football means the Englishman would be available for Champions League action, but Evra's presence means that European involvement isn't all that essential for the 2013/14 campaign.
Which signing makes more sense?
Moreover, Baines would be more of an impact acquisition for the next two to three seasons, perhaps longer if his relatively promising past with injuries is anything to go by.
Not that being near-sighted is a problem for Manchester United right now. Under David Moyes, getting through the next couple of years with some success should be the target and regardless of what Sir Alex Ferguson may have achieved in his 27 years at Old Trafford, no new dynasty is being created just yet.
However, with Sandro a gargantuan seven years younger than Baines and potentially carrying a similar price, United should be willing to take a leap of faith with the less seasoned of the two.
Squawka show just how much of an influence the defender has been going forward in the Champions League group stages:
Porto vs Eintracht Frankfurt. Porto's Alex Sandro completed 28 take ons in the Champions League group stages, no player completed more.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 16, 2013
Already growing as a part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazilian squad, the youngster could form a fearsome left-right-sided tandem with compatriot Rafael in the coming years at United, while the other Da Silva twin Fabio can remain as another aspiring option at full-back.
One can see why the reigning English champions would be tentative about a deal. After all, Anderson is another acquisition from Porto who had high expectations placed upon him at United, but is currently floating around as a fringe player, never fully having grasped the Premier League way of life.
That shouldn't cloud the club's judgement in this scenario, though, as Sandro provides not just a more youthful approach as Evra's replacement, but a talent that could go on to dwarf even Baines'.