In the same week the PFA recognises him as the best left-back in the Premier League, the name of Leighton Baines sounds as a possible reinforcement for Villas-Boas’ side next summer. With Benoit Assou-Ekotto likely to leave at the end of the season, it’s hard to think of a better replacement for Tottenham. The impressive season the England international has had, however, will not make the job of luring the star to White Hart Lane an easy task.
Not much more is left to be said about Baines performance after what his statistics show. His name appears among the first positions in several attacking rankings – chances created, crosses, clear-cut chances, etc. – giving an idea of the importance of his contribution from the left-back position.
Defensively, he has improved notably compared to last season, although it’s obvious his offensive display is what makes him one of a kind. The volume of chances the 28 year-old is capable to create gains importance when considering his status of defender, as the ability to create constant danger from an uncommon position can have a huge impact on the rest of the team performance.
Tactically, seeing Baines as White Hart Lane No.3 would mean Spurs would have the strongest left wing in the world, providing Gareth Bale resists all the summer temptations yet to come. Pairing up with the Welshman on the left flank would add up an extra boost to Baines attack, as the attention that the PFA Player of the Year naturally attracts to the opponent’s defences can only make of Baines an even bigger danger.
Should Bale decide it’s time to leave, Baines would gain responsibility on Spurs’ attack, and would probably lose part the surprise factor that having one of the best players in the world playing next to you could give. However, Villas-Boas would still find in Baines a constant source of attack that would ease the pain of seeing the flying winger go. While it would be naïve to suggest the Everton defender can give the same output as Bale in Tottenham’s offensive play, Baines has been more productive this season in certain aspects than his British fellow, such as crosses, key passes or pass success rate.
Getting Baines’ signature would be a hard task, though. The £12 million Tottenham would reportedly be willing to offer sounds insufficient to secure the player who, for many, is the best left-back of the moment. Besides, the competition from clubs the likes of Manchester United, able to offer higher contracts, could become too much of an obstacle for the club. However, Spurs should be capable to make an extra effort and use the profits of selling Assou-Ekotto to raise the bid.
Analysing other signing options, much has been said in the last weeks about Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao, who has completed a decent season with Los Blancos, but would suppose a step down in quality compared to Baines. Coentrao is a very solid defender, however with poor attacking skills and whose £25 million move to Bernabeu remains as an enigma that only Real chiefs and the mighty Jorge Mendes could answer to. The Portuguese agent, who represents Mourinho, Falcao, Pepe, Di Maria or Bebe, among others, has an outstanding ability to maximise the price clubs pay for his clients. More than one voice in Spain claim that the fact that Coentrao has taken over Marcelo as Mourinho’s first-choice is linked to the high price Real paid for him and also the fact that both manager and defender have the same agent.
In any case, both names will be linked to Tottenham should Villas-Boas’ men manage to achieved the so wanted top-four finish.
Of course, finishing out of the Champions League spots is not an option fans and club want to consider yet, and all eyes look at how to strengthen the team in the brightest of the European scenarios. Leighton Baines is, without a doubt, a player destined to shine on that stage, and Spurs should push the boat out for him if there is any chance of bringing him to White Hart Lane.
[cat_link cat=”tottenham” type=”grid”]