United should finally end Baines chase

Thursday 11th July 2013 10:54

Leighton Baines: Not worth £20million says TEAMtalk FanZoner Dan Talintyre

Leighton Baines: Not worth £20million says TEAMtalk FanZoner Dan Talintyre

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FanZoner Dan Talintyre insists Manchester United should not pay over the odds for Everton left-back Leighton Baines.

United fans aren't surprised any more when Baines is linked with a move to Old Trafford. It's simply what happens in the summer transfer window: teams sign players, teams sell players, and United get touted as a possible landing spot for Baines.

That's not to say that it's necessarily a bad thing.

After all, Baines is one of the world's best defenders and continues to leave his mark in both attack and defence. According to statistics website WhoScored, Baines ranked first in Europe last season for average accurate crosses per game and ranked in the top five for goal-scoring chances created per game. And yes, that includes every player who played domestic football in Europe.

Baines, despite playing as a left-back, created more goal-scoring chances per game than the likes of Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Andres Iniesta, Gareth Bale and Steven Gerrard. The list could go on and on. And what's more, he didn't without sacrificing his defensive responsibilities either - averaging 2.4 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 2.0 effective clearances per game as well.

It's easy to see, therefore, why United would desperately want to bring Baines to United and why they've been touted as a potential landing spot for several seasons. Their regular left-back, Patrice Evra, has been disappointing from time to time whereas Baines seemingly never has a bad game.

And now, with former Everton boss David Moyes leading the way at Old Trafford, the prospect of nabbing Baines seems more viable than ever before. Moyes has a great relationship with his former Everton players - obviously - and would seemingly be the most likely manager to land any of the Toffees' best should they desire to leave Goodison Park at some point this summer.

In short, the link to Baines is a good thing for United, and it's rarely going to draw any opposition from Red Devils fans - especially as the England international continues to grow in reputation.

However, that's not to say that it's a move worth pursuing from United's point of view. And while the obvious call might be to chase the Everton defender with as much money and vigor that's needed, the smartest option for United would be to drop the chase all together.

United would be better off to leave Baines alone this summer.

I know that doesn't sound like a smart argument, but it's the truth. As good as Baines is - which I've highlighted above and could talk much more about - the reality is that he is an unnecessary commodity for the Red Devils and one that really doesn't work the current landscape at the cub.

The Red Devils already have Evra and they already have 24-year-old Alexander Buttner waiting in the wings to take over from the Frenchman when needed. Buttner doesn't possess the same crossing game as Baines - although few do - but he is a strong tackler who is strong going forward as well. He's already won a premiership medal thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson playing him against West Bromwich Albion on the final day and already has Champions League experience as well, which is more than can be said about Baines, who is four years older than the Dutchman.

And let's not completely rule out Evra, either, from holding on to the starting spot for at least another 12 months barring an incredible transfer away from Old Trafford this summer.

Evra - who is so often maligned for his performances - was actually one of United's best last season in both attack and defense. He netted four goals (one less than Baines) and registered five assists as well (the same as Baines), and showed that he still has what it takes to be a world-class defender - recording the exact same number of tackles and interceptions as Baines did last season.

The French international might be 32, but if he's still playing as well as he did last season, then there is no real reason to buy another replacement. Especially when the replacement that's there in Buttner is more than capable of stepping up and taking over the role.

Baines - as good as he is - would be nothing other than a luxury for Moyes and United. And with reports emerging that the Red Devils would need to pay around £20million to land the Englishman, it's clear that such money would be wasted on bringing in an unnecessary player.

An extremely talented player, but an unnecessary one nonetheless.

And while that in itself is not a huge issue for a club with the security and pulling power that Manchester United has, the timing of such an unnecessary purchase would be an issue. The Red Devils have several big decisions to make in the summer transfer window regarding money, and to make Baines the priority (and spend £20 million to get him) would be the wrong move all together.

United's first priority must be to keep hold of Wayne Rooney - a task which David Moyes is seemingly prepared to undertake. However, like so much of the transfer window, nothing is certain and the Red Devils would do well to wrap up a new deal with the star playmaker in order to ensure that he remains a Manchester United player for several more seasons.

When that's all sorted, United then need to add another central midfielder to partner Michael Carrick.

Barcelona youngster Thiago was seemingly the most likely option, with United rumoured to be close to a deal last week. However, the latest news has Bayern Munich also interested, with reports coming out of Spain that the star central midfielder is extremely close to joining the Bavarians and not United.

Thiago - as I've written about previously - could very well be the catalyst for a new dynasty of success at United akin to the transfers of Cristiano Ronaldo and to a lesser extent, Wayne Rooney. That's how talented the Spanish youngster is, and United can ill afford to lose out in a bidding war for his services all because they were trying to sign another left-back that they don't really need.

Don't hear me wrong - I'm not saying that Baines isn't worth it, full stop.

What I'm saying is that given the current context, Baines isn't worth pursuing wholeheartedly. He isn't worth pursuing if it means that Rooney leaves the club this summer or at the end of next season, and he isn't worth pursuing if it means United are going to miss out on signing Thiago.

He isn't worth fighting for if he's going to cost United £20 million, and see them robbed of several good years from both Evra and Buttner alike.

And given that that's what's currently being discussed, it seems that Baines isn't worth fighting for from United's point of view this summer at all.

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