Five ways Leighton Baines will improve Manchester United
Reports broke yesterday over United’s initial bid for the defender, shortly after comments he made which suggested he was more than happy at Everton and looking forward to the new season.
“We’ve chatted on the phone. It was just about speaking about the start of the season and looking forward to working with each other,” said Baines.
That may still be the case but the fact remains of United put enough cash on the table, Baines will find it very difficult to turn down what would likely be the final move of his career.
He can certainly help United in several ways.
Goals and Assists
Baines is prolific in terms of set pieces which allows him top notch up a higher goal tally than is common for a full back.
He’s been lethal from various free kick and penalty situations and his delivery from dead balls at free kicks and corners, also means he weighs in with a high assist count. He scored and created five goals last season.
Baines was only booked on four occasions last season, which shows he has great discipline.
Manchester United are heading into a season where there is big doubt over whether they can protect their Premier League title, so they don’t need any important members of their squad being suspended through poor examples of discipline which means accumulating cards.
Baines had a successful pass rate of 82.3% last season. That’s extremely prolific for a full back who tracks up and down the left wing for 90 minutes.
That shows he’s effective when it comes to a combination of both short and long passes, which is useful because United like to pass out from the defence but also need someone who can hit accurate long balls to setup the counter attack.
Baines’ average number of interceptions per game last season currently sits at 1.5. That may not sound like a great deal but it proves he reads the game well and is able to judge when to step in to try and win the ball effectively.
The quality of some of the United midfielders should help him to read the game even more effectively in Moyes’ United side, which means that interception rate per match is only going to head in one direction.
Winning Free Kicks
Baines draws 1.5 free kicks in attacking areas of the pitch on average, based on his Premier League appearances last season.
That will create opportunities for him and other key United players to get free kicks away on goal from dangerous areas, which can only give the side a better chance of picking up ‘easy’ goals over the course of the season.