Patrice Evra may have something to say about it, but it became clear this summer that Manchester United were prioritising a new left-back.
Having failed in their attempts to sign Leighton Baines from Everton, a deal was all-but-done to bring in Fabio Coentrao on loan from Real Madrid, only for the last-minute nature of the move to be its downfall as Real’s intended replacement Guilherme Siqueira had already moved to Benfica.
With David Moyes recently acknowledging that another move for Baines was unlikely, the rumour mill threw Luke Shaw’s name back into the hat, despite the 18-year-old only recently signing a new contract with Southampton.
Despite United’s abject display in the Manchester derby, Evra was one of the few players to warrant any credit. But what of his reported rivals for the position?
Here we take a statistical view of the weekend performances of Baines and Shaw. We would have included Coentrao…but he did not play.
Baines grabbed the headlines and the goals in an outstanding performance in Everton’s 3-2 victory over West Ham United on Saturday.
His two free-kicks were sublime, as he scored from both his shots on target. He also played one key pass to set up a goal-scoring chance for a teammate and won free-kicks for his side on two occasions.
His pass accuracy was 93% (second only to Leon Osman), he won two aerial duals and he was deservedly crowned man-of-the-match.
Fellow defender Dejan Lovren may have overshadowed his young teammate following his match-winning goal against Liverpool, but Shaw played a vital role in his side’s impressive performance and clean-sheet.
Shaw had one shot on target and played one key pass. He also won 2 aerial duals and was successful with 73% of his passes, a full 20% less than Baines.
One player is arguably at the peak of his career, while the other’s is just beginning, but given Baines’ influence on Saturday, it is clear why Moyes was so keen to sign him (again).
Shaw has the potential to blossom into one of the country’s finest full-backs. But Baines is so much more than a defender, and Everton should be commended for refusing to bow in the face of United’s interest.
With United reportedly readying a £25million bid for Shaw the question is a simple one – spend big on a potential future great, or spend just slightly less on the finished (but considerably older) article.
Who would you prefer United to sign? Or should they be looking elsewhere for their next left-back?
image: © ericthefish