I find Manchester United’s interest in Leighton Baines a little strange. He’s a super player; a top left back who is among the best players in Europe for providing assists for his team. Some achievement that.
But if Patrice Evra was already my left-back I’m not sure I’d be hurrying to replace him. He, too, is a marvellous full-back, but he has another proven quality that is all-important at United. He’s a winner.
When Sir Alex Ferguson walked away from the United dressing room for the last time, he would have looked back at certain individuals and felt he was leaving the club in good hands; in the care of senior players who understand what it means to play for Manchester United and what is expected of them.
Wanted: But there isn't much to choose between Leighton Baines (left) and United stalwart Patrice Evra
Evra, I’m sure, would have been among the key men, along with guys like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs. Evra is a strong personality. Vocal, intelligent, a leader.
So why does Moyes feel the need to bring in Baines? Age might be a reason, given that Evra is now 32.
But Ryan Giggs has proved that 32 is nothing in the modern game — it’s also the same age as Ashley Cole and Jose Mourinho is in no rush to replace him. At nearly 29, Baines is not significantly younger.
In action: Baines tackles Jonny Howson in Everton's opener at Norwich
Tough tackler: Evra attempting to challenge Swansea's Michu on Saturday as United won 4-1
I don’t see a great deal of difference between them as players, either. Defensively, they are much of a muchness.
The statistics do suggest Baines is more effective as an attacker, creating 116 chances for Everton last season compared to Evra’s 24 for United. But how much does that have to do with the way the two teams were set up?
The statistics also say that Evra is the more accurate passer of the ball, while they both made 52 appearances for their clubs last season.
Finally, there is no doubting Evra’s character. One only has to look at the success he has enjoyed at United. Exactly the kind of success Moyes hopes to experience, too.
Source: Opta - The heat map (above) and touch map (below) show that Leighton Baines (right for both) was much more active than Patrice Evra (left for both) on the opening Premier League weekend. However, despite being statistically better, Baines' Everton drew 2-2 with Norwich City while Evra's Manchester United won 4-1