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Monday, 15 July 2013

Manchester United: Do we really need Baines and Garay?

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Sqf Soohwan United

Since last summer Manchester United have been heavily linked to two defenders, Leighton Baines, from Everton, and Ezequiel Garay, 26, from Benfica. But do we really need them?

Leighton Baines is in his prime and is definitely one of the top left backs in England, but, with a high price tag, should United be spending a large chunk of their transfer budget on a 28-year-old? Sure, Patrice Evra is declining as a footballer and regardless of his experience and leadership, the Frenchman needs to be replaced sooner or later. Last summer, Manchester United signed Alexander Buttner, 24, as a possible replacement and sent out another left back, Fabio, to QPR on loan. So it's not as though United are short of left backs. But neither has shown enough to really claim the position.

Leighton bainesButtner has shown plenty in terms of attacking threat, but his defensive qualities are questionable and will need improvement. Some time out on loan, either in the Premier League or Championship, would be great for the Dutchman and give him more first team experience in England. Fabio did manage to make 25 appearances for United two seasons ago and played in a string of games including European matches. But this was in his twin brother's right back position, which now definitely belongs to Rafael. If Fabio can replicate the form he showed two years ago and also match his brother in terms of performance, then he'll have a chance to make the left back position his own.

The only reason to sign Baines is to ease the transition between Evra and either Buttner or Fabio. But should United spend so much on a such a temporary solution, one which could also encourage both Buttner and Fabio to look for opportunities elsewhere and leave United looking for a new left back in a few years time? 

The other defender, Garay, is a highly rated centre-back. He is seen as the replacement for either the injured or departing Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic. Though both Vidic, 31, and Ferdinand, 34, are getting closer to the end of their careers, I believe Manchester United have sufficient cover for both.

Manchester United already have Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the squad. Evans, in particular, has established himself as the centre back to partner either Ferdinand and Vidic. Sir Alex Ferguson claimed last year that neither can play together anymore and Evans is the ideal partner for both. At 25, Evans has both youth and a great amount of experience.

Smalling, 23, made 30 plus appearances in his first two seasons, particularly during Ferdinand's injury absences and Evans' absence of form in the 2010/11 season. Last season was an injury ravaged one, but Smalling still played his part and was discovered to be suitable cover for Rafael at right back.

Lasty, Phil Jones, 21, is highly rated by Sir Alex Ferguson and has been touted as the future club captain of Manchester United. Already a very talented, and equally versatile, player, Jones sees himself as a centre back but has been played in right back and as a defensive midfielder - performing well in this position at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid last season.

Many see Chris Smalling and Phil Jones being the future centre back partnership for Manchester United. So, again, the only reason to sign Garay is to help Evans ease the transition between the Ferdinand-Vidic and Smalling-Jones partnerships.  

The versatility of both Smalling and Jones will ensure they find plenty of game time at Manchester United, but if Vidic does indeed stay and remains relatively injury free, Manchester United will have six centre backs in their squad. Now, I know the modern game is a squad one and having more players - while ensuring they find enough first team action - can be advantageous. But I feel money could be better spent elsewhere.

I can understand David Moyes wanting Baines and I don't doubt the ability of Baines to improve the squad. But I'd rather see Moyes invest in the other parts of the squad.

Calling all Manchester United fans: How do you feel about Manchester United being linked with Leighton Baines and Ezequiel Garay? Do United need to sign any more defenders? Who should Manchester United sign?  


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