Has David Moyes missed the boat with Leighton Baines?
Try as he might, David Moyes appears no further forward in persuading another of his transfer targets to join him at Old Trafford.
Everton and England left-back Leighton Baines has been coveted by the Manchester United manager since his appointment at the Premier League champions but the likelihood is Baines will commit his future to the Toffees.
According to Sky Sports, Baines could sign a new deal at Goodison as early as this week, and manager Roberto Martinez is keen to stress the player's importance to the club:
You know how important he is for us. He is in the best moment of his career and has got a real maturity which allows him to think on the pitch and make good decisions.
He's not just a player, but a real icon of our football club, so clearly we want him to stay as long as we can.
Key to Baines' final decision could be the contrasting fortunes of both teams.
Martinez has hit the ground running at Everton, guiding them effortlessly into a respectable sixth position. Moyes, by contrast, has seen his Old Trafford managerial career beset by problems.
Everton: Martinez hopeful of Baines stay: Everton manager Roberto Martinez is hopeful that Manchester United t... http://t.co/Hneaqd72Zk— Barclays PL News™ (@BarclaysLeague) January 21, 2014
Injuries to key personnel such as Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney haven't helped his cause, but seven league defeats at this stage of the season give a clue to the size of the task facing the manager.
There is nothing to announce at the moment, but the way he's playing, he's looking to try to progress and develop.
He is a player that you can imagine everyone at the football club would love to see him enjoying his football here for a longer period.
Supporters may bemoan the "Evertonisation" of Manchester United, given Moyes' preference for raiding his old club, but there is no denying that Baines' stats compare more than favourably to those of Patrice Evra, his direct rival for a left-sided berth at United.
According to David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News, the Englishman is more proficient in all areas of his game bar his crossing ability:
|Passing Accuracy||84.4 percent||89.2 percent|
|Duels Won||56.5 percent||67.7 percent|
|Aerial Duels Won||56.5 percent||66.7 percent|
|Tackles Won||77.8 percent||85.7 percent|
|Cross Success||29 percent||21.2 percent|
Manchester Evening News
At four years younger than the Frenchman, Baines is at his peak footballing wise, and indeed Evra himself (according to David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror) has already spoken with Moyes concerning the recruiting of another left-back to provide decent competition.
A £16 million bid for Baines is a cursory acknowledgement at best of his talent, and certainly nowhere near enough to tempt Everton to do business.
If Moyes doesn't rate either Fabio or Alex Buttner as understudy in the position, then he will need to move quickly to secure his target.
It would seem that in the case of Leighton Baines he hasn't moved quickly or decisively enough.