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Reports are leaking out that Manchester United expect to seal a deal to sign England left back Leighton Baines from Everton during the January window. An article in the Sunday Express suggest that plands at Old Trafford are well advanced for the deal, and also that Toffees’ manager Roberto Martinez sees the loss of Baines as increasingly inevitable and has already begin to look at replacements.
During the summer, Everton were keen to rebuff approaches from their former manager as he sought to cherrypick the outstanding players from the club. Bids for Fellaini and Baines were rejected on more than one occasion, although the Belgian midfielder was eventually secured, albeit at an inflated price. The extra few months between August and January however, appear likely to make a difference.
Come the turn of the year, Baines, 29, will only have eighteen months or so left on his deal, and as the player has consistentyly rebuffed the clubs attempts to tie him to a new deal, Everton will be acutely aware that should the contract run down a further twelve months, Baines would be free to sign a pre-contract with another club. With this in mind, plus the player’s apparent expression of desire to make the move to Old Trafford, making the deal may seem to Everton like the least bad option.
Any exit of Baines will be a loss to the club, but with Martinez’s revolution at Goodison Park currently delivering the goods, the club will probably be content to back their young manager’s judgement. Replacement options being considered are currently Swansea’s Ben Davis and Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand. Each player is young enough to be shaped by the Martinez ethos, but also with a body of Premier League experience behind them.
It’s perhaps a little interesting to consider that according to the league table, moving to United from Everton hardly looks like a move upwards. That said of course, by the time that January ticks round, that may well not be the case.
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