David Moyes might have denied United will embark on a shopping spree in January, but today’s back pages think otherwise and single out Leighton Baines as the United’s manager main target for this winter’s transfer window.
The England international was on United’s radar all summer, with Moyes submitting a combined £36m bid for Baines and Marouane Fellaini, which was rejected by Everton, prompting the United manager to return with a fresh bid for the Belgian midfielder, who joined United on deadline day for £27m.
With Patrice Evra struggling for form and Alex Buttner hardly capable to convince Moyes he is up for the job at this level, the United manager is set to return to his former club with an improved offer for Baines, who is yet to extend his contract at Goodison Park, despite Everton chairman Bill Kenwright’s attempts to get Baines to pen a new deal.
Some of today’s papers report that United could offer £15m for Baines in a deal which will also include Antonio Valencia, who is a shadow of the player he was during the 2011-12 season and who seems to be deemed as surplus by Moyes, who has opted for Nani ahead of the Ecuadorian in the last two Premier League games.
While the Portuguese is hardly the sort of consistent player United would love to be able to rely on, the feeling is that Moyes is more willing to trust Nani than Valencia, who was largely culpable for Manchester City’s first goal in the 4-1 shellacking United suffered in the derby last month.
In the summer, many Reds were left unconvinced by United’s willingness to spend £20m on a left-back who will turn 29 this year, but Baines has started the season in scintillating form, scoring twice in his first seven league appearances for the Toffees and looking increasingly likely to usurp Ashley Cole’s spot at left-back for England.
Both, Evra and Buttner have looked distracted and sluggish defensively and David Moyes is well aware of the importance of having a reliable left-back, for United have been exposed time and again in that area of the pitch so far this season. Baines, who last month admitted being flattered by United’s interest, will be a step-up on United’s current options, while his prowess at set pieces could also be very handy for the Reds.
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