After David Moyes flew to Denmark to watch 22 year old Costa Rican left back Bryan Oviedo in action for FC Copenhagen this week, it seems Everton are making contingency plans for the exit of Leighton Baines.
Manchester United see cover for 31 year old French left back Patrice Evra as a necessity this season after allowing Fabio to go on loan to QPR, with reservations over his defensive suitability also present, a more permanent fixture is desired and after a brilliant couple of seasons the 27 year old England international has emerged as a huge target for the Red Devils.
Baines was left back in last season’s PFA Team of the Year and his defensive strength and crossing ability ally him to Manchester United’s dominant style of play. With ambitions of a £12million deal, Sir Alex is hoping to tie down a deal.
But should Everton sell?
In recent years Everton have become a ‘selling team’ after struggling to find the degrees of investment that other sides in the league have in order to compete at a high level in the transfer market but they have still managed to perform admirably in the league under the stewardship of Moyes.
Bargain buys such as Jonny Heitinga, Sylvain Distin, Nikica Jelavic, Tim Howard, Darron Gibson and Phil Jagielka are a few of many but the outlay has to be balanced with a significant amount of income from player sales.
Only the sale of Tim Cahill this summer and the acquisition of Naismith and Pienaar give Everton a strong team ahead of this season that Moyes will hope to keep together and challenge for European places and Cup success once again. With the talents of Seamus Coleman, Magaye Gueye, Shane Duffy, Ross Barkley and Jack Rodwell all coming through there is no doubt Everton are starting to have a real strength in depth.
However £12million for a player who turns 28 this season may seem like good business for a club who struggle for finances and could easily obtain a decent replacement at left back and another player with any money made on Baines.
The emergence of England Under-19 left back Luke Garbutt on loan at Cheltenham Town and in pre-season also gives Everton more incentive to sell.
So should Everton stand their ground and buck the trend or cash in on Baines before it’s too late?