Bill Kenwright appears set to take this one to the bell. According to reports out of England, the Everton chairman is standing firm on his ‘not for sale’ pledge. Leighton Baines may be 28. He may only be a left back. And he may want to go to Manchester United. But he may also represent a line in the sand for the Toffees, who seem intent on keeping him away from the Red Devils.
Why you’d want to hold onto Baines over Fellaini, I’m not sure. Perhaps Kentwright senses he can hold on to the England international, while the younger, more important Belgian is destined to move. Perhaps he can play on the loyalties of a man who’s been at Goodison for over six years, who has previously turned down a chance to join Bayern Munich. Perhaps, Kenwright may be thinking, Leighton’s going through a phase, one which will pass when the window closes. Marouane, on the other hand, was always likely to leave Liverpool.
That’s all well and good, but $23.4 million for a left back is a huge offer. For one that turns 29 years old in December? Kenwright should be thanking Moyes for his fixation. You can both love Baines, want to hold onto him, and realize you’re never going to get a deal like this again. If you ever intend on getting money for him, now’s the time to sell. Else, watch him walk to United when his contract is up, disappointed you didn’t broker a move when he asked to go.
Maybe Kenwright senses he can get more money out of Moyes, though if that’s his plan, the former Everton boss needs to call his bluff. He’s already paying too much for a player who’s not going to massively upgrade his back line (Patrice Evra is aging, but he’s not as bad as people want to believe). At some point, Manchester United needsto go to their left back backup plan.
Kenwright has made his want to keep Baines into a test of David Moyes. How much is your affinity worth, on top of Baines’ actual value? How much will you fixate on one player, to the exclusion of all others, and pay over the odds to get him?
Do you have the judgment to know you’re being tested? And if so, will you walk away?