Paul Parker

Baines a perfect fit for Manchester United

Paul Parker

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David Moyes will be judged on his first signings as Manchester United boss, and if he does bring Leighton Baines to Old Trafford he will pass the test with flying colours.

Moyes is always going to get help from within the club in that Sir Alex Ferguson is still there and will be able to advise both the manager and potential recruits.

But David will have his own ideas about who he’ll want to sign in terms of how they will fit in to his tactical set-up.

He may well spend big but he will need to spend right – when you spend relative peanuts at Everton you are allowed the odd flop, but the first major signings he makes at United will be the most important.

I say major because spending the odd million on youngsters like Guillermo Varela is neither here nor there; signings along the same stature as Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie are the benchmark for Moyes.

I do think Moyes is an excellent judge of player and character – the one time he did slip up at Everton was with Royston Drenthe, but he was a loan signing and was dealt with quickly and admirably.

I think he should look no further than Leighton Baines. United have been relatively weak at left-back since Patrice Evra went off the boil a few years ago. While he improved last season, his defending and recovery work have still been quite poor, and his attacking ability limited by an average final ball and lack of goal threat.

Baines, meanwhile, created more chances than any other player in Europe’s major leagues last season, which is incredible given he is a left-back. That he only got five assists is testament to how many chances the likes of Nikica Jelavic missed, and throw in his fantastic dead-ball ability and you have the complete full-back.

Baines moving to United would take him to that extra level, and he would become England’s first-choice left-back; it would also improve United in a position where they have shown vulnerability.

Baines’s Everton team-mate Marouane Fellaini is also a clear option, and one that I feel would suit player and club. He has shown that he has the technical ability to match his previously undoubted physical attributes, having proven himself as more than just a guy to make tackles and win flick-ons.

A move to United would again allow him that extra dimension and freedom to express himself, to continue developing into a genuinely world-class player.

There are a few concerns about him though, notably his temperament – which will need to improve at a club like United – and whether he can play in the same side as Michael Carrick.

Carrick is highly-rated by United’s hierarchy but I see him as just a steady Eddie; his style is not complementary to Fellaini’s and I can’t see them working together. So that may go against Fellaini, or, for example, Luka Modric, who may say he wants to stay at Real Madrid but would be tempted by United, certainly more so than a reunion with Jose Mourinho.

Another player that is being talked about is Robert Lewandowski. I think, for all his ability, United should probably steer clear of that one.

Obviously he would improve the team, and I think he and Robin van Persie would be a terrifying combination. Lewandowski would also improve as a player at United – he may have to play deeper and develop his game further, and also I feel the Premier League is overall a more competitive division than the Bundesliga.

At the moment Germany is super fashionable but people have only really been watching two teams, Bayern and Dortmund. Beneath that there really isn’t much to write home about.

But United, in my view, should be wary of Lewandowski as he obviously wants to join Bayern. Dortmund have said they will not sell him to their rivals this summer, which is their way of forcing a move to a foreign club.

Obviously the player can sit on his contract, but the fans will turn on him, and Juergen Klopp may well banish him to the bench. We saw what happened to Mario Goetze in a two-week period. I don’t think Lewandowski will risk that.

So do United want to sign a player who clearly wants to be somewhere else? A dangerous game in my view, and there are other top strikers available who would be more committed to the cause.

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I'm not one to blow my own trumpet, but given the fall-out from England U21's shocking displays in Israel, here is my piece from last week about the death of English football. Really, if we don't do something about our young players' development, we may as well disband the national team. Which is something I fear some of the big clubs would actually prefer.

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