After long being linked with a move for Everton defender Leighton Baines, Manchester United are now set to firm up their interest with a £12million bid for the full-back.
Baines has been a revelation on Merseyside since his £6million arrival from Wigan back in 2007, and has earned a spot as the understudy to England left-back Ashley Cole.
A free-kick and penalty specialist, Baines’ solidity in a defensive capacity, coupled with his attacking capabilities, make him the ideal modern full-back.
With Patrice Evra now 31, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to be thinking of a long-term replacement for the Frenchman, and Baines would appear a perfect fit.
United could struggle to land the 27-year-old with their initial bid however, with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright reluctant to lose a player at the peak of his career.
Kenwright may be forced to eventually let one of his star talents go, though he is expected to hold out for at least £15million for a man named in the 2011/2012 PFA Team of the Year.
Baines still has three years remaining on his Goodison Park contract, though the receiving of a substantial transfer fee would allow David Moyes to add some depth to a threadbare squad.
Moyes is keen to generate funds to permanently re-sign Steven Pienaar from Tottenham, whilst he is also interested in Burnley prospect Jay Rodriguez.
He employed Sylvain Distin at left-back on occasions last term too, so could perhaps justify Baines’ sale with the fact that he already has capable performers who can fill in his position.
That said, Baines would still prove a massive loss to the Toffees, who could earn more for the defenders’ services should he feature at Euro 2012.
This appears unlikely, but there is no doubt that Baines appears the natural successor to Ashley Cole for England, and now, possibly, Patrice Evra at Manchester United too.