The left back. As a kid it was always the position you were stuck into when you weren’t very good, the brunt of all jokes as you were ‘left back in the changing rooms’. But as time has gone on the left back has become a more and more fashionable position, probably all going back to Roberto Carlos and then moving onto the likes of Ashley Cole and Paulo Maldini, it’s a position that has taken on a greater significance over the last 15-20 years from an attacking perspective, long gone are the days of the full back who stops on the half way line or bursts forward from time to time.
At United we have been very lucky over the years to have some of the finest left backs in the world, Denis Irwin, Arthur Albiston and of course possibly our best yet Patrice Evra. But most of last season all the talk was of Evra’s decline (which I don’t particularly agree with) and now with Fabio’s departure on loan the obvious question is who will come in, lets go through some of the options now-
Leighton Baines – Everton (27 Yrs Old)
Heavily tipped and highly fancied, the favourite at present, and if you listen to some sources a deal already completed. Baines has always been a player I like, back to his U21 days when he scored v Germany (youtube it, its very special) and he always looked a prospect at Wigan, then moving onto Everton and going from strength to strength, for me I see no reason why he isn’t the ideal understudy to Patrice for a season or two.
Pros- Could he be the free kick taker we have missed over the last couple of years? Has a great delivery on him from outwide and takes one of the best penalties your likely to see, very solid at the back
Cons- Prices being quoted at around £18 million, lack of European/international experience
Christian Fuchs –Schalke 04 (26 Yrs Old)
Now im not going to write this and pretend im an avid viewer of German football and I know all about this guy but all the reports I read on him and stats from last season means this chap has to be taken seriously as a contender, 7 assists and 2 goals in a Schalke side that finished 3rd behind Bayern and Dortmund shows he is very handy going forward and is tipped to be a star. Again a bit of a free kick specialist so definitely worth a look,
Pros- Looks a very good player and with his crossing ability and free kicks he could offer an attacking threat as well as being a very good defender, also would be much cheaper than Baines- Also lets not forget he has a great name, you can almost hear the songs now
Cons- No Premier league experience, only 1 full season with a ‘big’ club in Schalke so could just be a flash in the pan
Fabio Coentrao – Real Madrid- (24 Yrs Old)
Unlikely due to Mourinho and the Portuguese contingent at Real and the fact that he is a fantastic player so why would Madrid let him go?! But if there was anyway of us capturing the signature of Coentrao then what a signing it would be, brilliant on the ball and so good going forward Madrid have been known to employ him almost as a striker at times, looked a class above in the Euros and at only 24 still has years left in him
Pros- Going forward looks a world beater but has his critics defensively, minimum 6 years left at the top level you would think and being Ronaldo’s mate will always help settle him in with the fans
Cons- Very unlikely to leave Madrid and if he was to you would imagine we would have to pay through the nose, plus he has been known to have lapses at the back
Federico Balzeretti – Palermo (30 Yrs Old)
30 Years old?! What would United want with a 30 Year old Left Back?! Well it’s not as daft as it may sound, firstly I was massively impressed with this guy during the Euros, really good going forwards and loves a tackle, and I know it’s a stereo type but hes Italian, they live to defend! He has spent time at Juve in the past and now a regular for Palermo but im sure we could get him for a cut price 3 or 4 Million, and he would not only give Evra competition but would be ideal for the Champions league to give Evra a rest from time to time. Now back to his age, people will still see Fabio as Utd’s next left back, and I tend to agree, both Da Silvas look the real deal and at still only 22 and with a season at QPR hopefully under his belt and Champions league experience of players much older than him, Da Silva should come back in next year and fight for his place so why pay £18-£20 Million on a replacement?
Pros- Looks a very very good left back and looks built for the Premier League, Cheap at only a few million and perfect cover for Evra
Cons- 30 years old so not exactly a signing for the future, unproven at the top top level.
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