Tottenham Hotspur are considering a surprise move to sign Manchester United target Leighton Baines in the summer, according to the Mirror. The left-back has been in impressive form for Everton this term and has featured 40 times in all competitions, scoring seven goals and registering six assists.
The England international has been on United's radar for the last two seasons and was strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford last summer. However, the deal did not take place as the player's £15m asking price was deemed too expensive by Sir Alex Ferguson.
The report claims Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has now made signing a left back as a priority in the summer. Baines will have two years left on his deal at the end of the season, which means his asking price could drop at that time.
AVB has Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the left-back role for now but he is understood to be willing to let the African leave in the summer, with a big-money bid from Ligue 2 side AS Monaco believed to be on the table. The ex-Chelsea boss was also linked to Real Madrid star and compatriot Fabio Coentrao, who may be allowed to leave the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer. However, considering the Spaniards paid a reported £27m for the defender, he is likely to be a far more expensive proposition than Baines.
Ultimately, though, the question of signing any new player could depend on whether Spurs qualify for the Champions League next season. The north London club are fifth in the Premier League and trail Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for the final two qualifying positions. And they dropped two points against relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Coentrao for Gareth Bale
There remains the possibility, assuming Spurs qualify for the Champions League and Baines chooses Old Trafford over White Hart Lane, of a player/cash deal for Welsh winger Gareth Bale. The 23-year-old is in phenomenal form, with 18 league goals to his name this campaign and is believed to be a key target for Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
And while Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is understandably reluctant to allow Bale to leave, AVB has admitted that not being able to offer the player Champions League football could mean he will leave the club. In that case, a cash and player deal for him (involving Coentrao) could be an arrangement to satisfy all parties.