EXCLUSIVE: Man United plan cut-price £5m move for Baines
Published 22:28 21/04/12 By Simon Mullock
Leighton Baines has emerged as a shock summer target for Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson has identified the Everton left-back as a possible successor for captain Patrice Evra as the Frenchman nears his 31st birthday.
And the belief at Old Trafford is that Everton’s financial situation could enable them to land Baines for as little as £5million.
Goodison boss David Moyes will be desperate to keep all his top players given that there is unlikely to be any cash made available for reinforcements.
But the chance to recoup the initial £5m they paid Wigan to recruit Baines almost five years ago may be too tempting for the Toffees.
Baines, 27, has been outstanding this season and is putting pressure on Ashley Cole to be England’s first-choice left-back at Euro 2012.
His hopes of ousting Cole have been hit by a hamstring injury that will sideline him when Everton face United at Old Trafford today.
But the problem will have cleared by the time the Three Lions head for the Ukraine and Poland.
Baines has just over three years left on his contract at Goodison and is a big favourite with the fans. But Ferguson has been monitoring him for the past two years.
Evra is beginning to show signs of age and the United boss has already confirmed that Brazilian youngster Fabio will continue his footballing education on loan next season.
Ferguson has also assured his opposite number today, David Moyes, that he can achieve all his ambitions at Everton.
Moyes has earned plaudits for his 10 years’ work at Goodison Park, yet still seeks his first trophy and many believe he must move to a wealthier club to find fulfilment.
United boss Ferguson, pictured with Moyes above, said: “Only David can answer whether he should do that. It’s where he goes from Everton to fulfil his next step in management. There’s nothing wrong with staying at Everton.
“It’s been a challenge for the lad, who’s had to deal with injuries over the years and hasn’t had the financial backing that I and other managers get. He’s done that aspect of the job fantastically well.
“I’m sure he’s ambitious. It’s choosing the moment of what’s the best thing to do – whether he stays at Everton or not.”