Manchester United: Leighton Baines Transfer Is Crucial for Red Devils to Win EPL

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IJuly 15, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Leighton Baines of Everton in action during the pre season friendly match between Everton and Villarreal  at Goodison Park on August 5, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The transfer market is now starting to heat up with rumors of speculation darting throughout England. Though the potential move of Robin van Persie is currently the biggest story that is generating speculation, there are still plenty of other moves that will take place.

For Manchester United, they have operated under the radar up to this point this summer. That does not mean that United have not made some strong moves in the market.

So far, United signed Japanese star Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund and young Crewe midfielder Nick Powell, along with appearing to be close to signing Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas.

Following a second place finish in the Premier League and a disappointing run in Europe, it was expected that United would make some moves in the transfer market. United have gotten younger with these purchases, along with the departure of Michael Owen and Ji-Sung Park, and they don't appear to be finished.

Two days ago, Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he expected to make one more move in this summer's market.

This remark will help open up many transfer rumors over the next several weeks. One of the players that will find himself linked to an Old Trafford move is Everton left back, Leighton Baines.

During this past season, Baines put together another fantastic campaign for the Merseyside club. He started in more Premier League matches than any other Everton player, and had a fantastic performance during the season.

Outside of his four goals (the third most by any defender in the league), Baines was a major offensive contributor for the Toffees, creating a team-high 67 key passes. Baines also completed more than 76 percent of his passes.

But as with any defender, Baines' play had to be sharp. During this past season, he only got called to 31 fouls. He also made 65 interceptions, the second-highest on the team.

Though some of his stats don't appear to be overly convincing, Baines' play has been critical for Everton, who only conceded 40 times last season. The two clubs who conceded fewer goals last season were the two giants from Manchester.

With a strong defensive record, Baines has a strong command of the Premier League and can shut down many of the competitions best players. That was the reason why Baines became the first Everton player to get named to the PFA team of the year in the EPL era.

Baines' credentials are fantastic and he is qualified to play for any club in England. But Man United need to make an investment for their future in signing Baines during this summer.

Last season, Patrice Evra continued his regression. Evra did show glimpses of his once sparkling form, but age has crept into the Frenchman's play.

Evra had some underwhelming performances in key situations (most notably against Manchester City during their two Premier League meetings). But Evra was still effective in what was his fifth straight season playing in at least 40 matches for United.

Following the season-ending knee injury to Nemanja Vidic and the off-and-on Rio Ferdinand, Evra found himself providing more experience to a back line that contained some talented young players.

Though the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Rafael and Fabio are all capable future stars on the first team, Evra provided an important bridge to bolster these players' development.

But considering a dip in form last year and the age factor, Evra will not be a full-time starter for that much longer. Evra has participated in more than 30 league fixtures during four of the last five years. It is only inevitable that he will find himself with more injuries in the near future.

Due to this, it would only make sense to bring in Baines, who could platoon alongside Evra in all competitions. Baines may not be a long-term solution at the position due to his age, but he will prove to be an effective player who will strengthen the defense.


Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan