Fears that Manchester United no longer possess the financial capacity to compete with neighbours Manchester City at the top of the Premier League are looking overblown as the club consider another eight-figure signing.
In a summer in which the loaded champions are yet to dip into the transfer market, the side they beat to the title on goal difference have already strengthened their squad with the impending arrival of Shinji Kagawa for around £17.5 million.
The Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder will be joined at the club by Nick Powell, who they have invested a considerable £3 million sum in after an impressive campaign in League Two for Crewe, with more additions anticipated.
The target attracting the attention right now is Everton’s Leighton Baines, who was recognised by his fellow professionals as the best left back in the Premier League in 2011/12 and is valued at around £15 million.
Baines would provide what many judge to be much-needed competition for the current occupant of that position Patrice Evra, who at 31 is four years the England international’s senior and has shown signs of being on the decline in recent months.
When discussing the increasingly prevalent rumours that he will be on his way to Manchester United following five years at Goodison Park, the Merseyside-born defender refused to confirm his interest.
Instead, he hinted that Everton may find an offer in the area discussed – there are murmurs that the Red Devils will bid £12 million this week – impossible to snub, and that David Moyes wouldn’t struggle to replace him.
With Chelsea (9/2 to finish first) signing Eden Hazard and Marko Marin and Arsenal (10/1) capturing Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, there are early indications that the 2012/13 title tussle won’t be a Manchester-exclusive affair.
However, Manchester City are 11/8 to retain and Manchester United’s price of 9/4 leaves them a fair way ahead of the London clubs as the holders’ biggest threat.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.