The Merseyside club are ready to offer the England left-back an improved new contract to ward off sustained interest from the Old Trafford giantsEXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Manchester United are ready to make a move for Leighton Baines but have set a £12 million limit on signing the Everton defender.
Goal.com understands that capturing Baines remains a priority for Sir Alex Ferguson as he looks to secure a long-term successor for 31-year-old Patrice Evra.
The interest from Old Trafford has not yet progressed beyond informal discussions but United are ready to step up their chase and could even make their first formal offer for the left-back next week.
|BAINES' 2011-12 STATS
However, the 19-times league champions are not willing to pay more than £12m for a player that Everton value at £17m and have decided to limit their salary package to £80,000-a-week.
Everton are ready to offer Baines an improved contract to keep hold of a player who manager David Moyes regards as vital to his plans.
The 27-year-old was named in the PFA Premier League team of the year following an outstanding 2011-12 campaign and Everton's system is built around his raids from left-back. He is also the team's set-piece specialist.
As Goal.com revealed last month, United fringe players such as Ji-Sung Park and the Da Silva twins Fabio and Rafael were mentioned as possible sweeteners in a deal for Baines.
However, Everton would prefer a straight cash deal and Park and Fabio have subsequently joined QPR, on permanent and loan deals respectively.
Speaking at the end of May, Baines described United's reported interest in him as a big compliment: "The United link is flattering. There is no harm in people talking about it because it is a great club. But I'm at a great club as well, a club that I love.
"Would it be hard to turn United down? I'm not letting my focus shift to that while I am in camp [with England]. I'm focused on what I'm doing at the moment. Would it be hard to leave Everton? Yes, obviously. You know what it means.
“I’ve been there for five years myself but also know first-hand what it means to a lot of people so, yes, it would be.”
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