When the news broke yesterday of Manchester United’s opening bid for Leighton Baines I was both surprised and annoyed. Surprised at the timing of the news, coming only a day after Baines had appeared to commit his immediate future to Everton and annoyed at the value of the bid and that David Moyes could act with such contempt for the club he served so well for over 11 years.
If the club are going to progress in the next 12 to 24 months under the leadership of Roberto Martinez, then the Blues must continue to rebuff any renewed efforts by Manchester United to secure the signature of Everton’s most prized asset. Whether that offer reaches past the £20 million mark, I believe that Everton simply cannot afford to let Baines go.
Sure we could go out and pick up a steady left back for £5-6 million, but we certainly wouldn’t get a player of Leighton Baines’ class and ability. Baines is almost unique in the world game in what he offers both in defence and most importantly in attack. His record of over 100 goal chances created last season was second to no one across the whole of Europe, and he also weighed in with crucial goals along the way. Baines has few peers who could claim to be his equal and certainly no one who would currently consider a move to Everton.
In an ideal world, Everton would not have to sell anyone to facilitate a transfer pot for Roberto Martinez, however most Blues are realistic in their outlook and have reluctantly accepted that Marouane Fellaini may need to be sacrificed to provide much needed funds. David Moyes often spoke about Everton not selling players cheaply and this makes the derisory offer for Baines all the more surprising.
Evertonians around the world continue to hold David Moyes in very high esteem, however he has disappointed and angered many with his move to sign Leighton Baines well technically, still the manager of Everton. I am sure Bill Kenwright will be privately seething after the underhand move from Manchester United, which will be aimed at unsettling Everton’s brilliant left back. The love affair between Moyes and Everton came to a dramatic end in May, and like most broken marriages, the aftermath can become quite messy.
David Moyes has acted in a hypocritical manor, using his elevated status at Manchester United to unsettle an Everton player, much like Manchester City and Mark Hughes did in their chase for Joleon Lescott. Moyes reacted furiously to Hughes, accusing the former Welsh international of disrespecting the Blues.
“The way it has been handled is disgusting and all it has done is disrupt our club and made it very difficult for us. Maybe that’s what the overall plan was.”
Everton must remain strong and must continue to fend off the interest from United. Prior to yesterday’s breaking news, there had been talk of a new contract for the England international. Robert Elstone is now faced with the most important discussions of the summer, ensuring that Leighton Baines signs on to extend his stay at the Blues for a number of years to come.