Everton left back Leighton Baines has been linked with a shock move to Italian side Napoli, who are now challenging Manchester United for his signature.
Baines is now 27 but Everton value him at around £20m – a far cry from the rumoured £12m that Manchester United were rumoured to be paying for the England international.
Napoli are looking for help on their left hand side as former Liverpool full back Andrea Dossena has been linked with a move to Milan – but Baines would actually be an upgrade on Dossena if he can acclimatise to Italy well enough. Napoli famously use an open 3-4-2-1 formation and it would leave Baines on the left hand side of the midfield. The fit in that system could be perfect for Baines because he would be able to get forward more than usual but still be depended on in the defence.
Whether Baines would be willing to up sticks so radically is another matter though. Baines is from Kirkby (just outside Liverpool) and played for Wigan Athletic before his move to Everton. He has always been in the North of England so a move to Manchester United would work for him if he wants to stay in the area, but a move to Italy seems a big risk for him at this stage in his career.
Would moving abroad improve Baines’ chances of getting in the England side? Probably not. He’s behind Ashley Cole and that’s one thing that’s not going to change for a while, no matter where he plays his football. Joe Cole took the plunge and went for a move to Lille last summer but he hasn’t reclaimed his place in the England squad.
There’s not much genuine evidence to support the notion that England managers prefer their players to play in England, but Owen Hargreaves got more recognition when he left Bayern Munich for Manchester United.
By this deduction, Baines would be better off staying in England right now because I can’t see many benefits for his career with a move to Italy.
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