Manchester United fans may already be looking toward the summer for a slew of new signings, but David Moyes would be wrong to snap up Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon as an alternative to Antonio Valencia on the Red Devils' right flank.
Should Manchester United sign Aaron Lennon?
Danny Griffiths of Metro believes Spurs' pacey 26-year-old is wanted by Moyes, who will spend a significant amount on vital squad improvements across the summer.
"The Manchester United boss has been a fan of the England international since his days in charge at Everton and wants the 26-year-old from Yorkshire to be part of his transformation at Old Trafford," writes Griffiths.
Upon signing Juan Mata from Chelsea for £37.1 million, Moyes confirmed he is looking to continue hunting for world-class players, as noted on United's official Twitter account:
David Moyes on further signings after Mata: "There'll be more players like Juan in the future. There's no doubt about that." #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 27, 2014
Lennon is an excellent player on his day, and he has carved an exciting Premier League career with Spurs, but his acquisition would be a misstep by Old Trafford's struggling manager. An alternative to Valencia's powerful yet often disappointing performances is needed, but Lennon is not the man to provide it.
Lennon vs. Valencia: The Statistical Battle
Despite having two completely different builds, both players would essentially offer United the same attributes. Neither is a natural goalscorer—with Lennon netting one and Valencia two in the Premier League this season—and the quality of their displays is largely gauged by their ability to deliver crosses.
Although Valencia won both the fans' and players' player of the year awards at United after the 2011-12 season, he hasn't lived up to that personal triumph since.
He has just three assists in 31 appearances across the English top flight and Champions League this season, as reported by WhoScored.com, a figure matched my Juan Mata after five appearances in the red shirt.
Somewhat unforgiveably, Valencia completes just 0.8 successful crosses per match. Add 0.6 accurate long balls each game as well as one through ball every 10 matches, and the stats begin to highlight a player who has regularly misfired across his United tenure.
Who is the better player?
Lennon's stats are worse. The pint-sized player has one assist to his name in 20 appearances throughout Spurs' Premier League and Europa League quests, completing an average of 0.6 crosses every fixture. He shies away from long passes, with 0.4 in each appearance, and he is also struggling with one through ball every 10 games.
Both players are famed for cutting inside on their right feet, and neither possess a left that can significantly impact matches. Although Lennon has proved more than capable of cutting inside from the left flank—particularly when Gareth Bale was at White Hart Lane—he is more inclined to bundle the ball into the box than provide a first-time delivery.
Valencia is almost exclusively one-footed, only utilising his unfavoured peg in emergencies. Like Lennon, he often hits the first defender by drilling crosses low rather than curling them in with force, and he is inclined to hit the byline as tightly as possible before losing momentum.
United need more than Valencia or Lennon can offer. Both would be excellent additions from the bench, but they lack the consistent form to consistently aid the team's efforts from the off. United have struggled with Valencia's lack of goals since he joined in 2009 and shouldn't welcome a winger of similar ilk, as noted by Dan Fitch of ESPNFC.com last year: "Goals are something that's always been lacking from Lennon's game. The most he's ever managed in a season is five (twice) which is pretty poor for a player of his class. If he's playing in a front three then he will have a responsibility to score more. Double figures should be the target."
With names such as Marco Reus and Toni Kroos touted for a transfer to the Theatre of Dreams, per Simon Mullock of the Mirror, Lennon's arrival would signal a lack of ambition from a club that needs to massively improve if Champions League football is to return.
Lennon doesn't offer an enhancement. He would merely provide an alternative option, as he does at Spurs.
Although he and Valencia are extremely dangerous when they hit a patch of form, both are defined by an inconsistency that regularly hampers their ability to fulfil basic duties. As we've seen from United throughout the season, this kind of negligence isn't going to win anything.