Manchester United face stiff competition for Everton star Leighton Baines.

The Daily Star Sunday says Everton's free-kick expert is the left-back Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sees as the ideal successor to Patrice Evra.

United were set to try to land £15million-rated Baines, 28, last summer until Fergie realised he could win the battle for Robin van Persie when he was leaving Arsenal.

A respected transfer-market source said: "United effectively ran out of money in the summer in terms of their budget for signings.

"They wanted Baines but couldn't afford him after paying £22million for Van Persie.

"But that deal was too good to miss and Fergie has been proved right in pushing out the boat for RVP."

United are not the only big club who would like to sign the ex-Wigan man. Liverpool have a long-standing interest but that would be a tricky move for Baines.

Bayern Munich also made a move for a player who is now genuine competition for Chelsea's ­Ashley Cole for the England left-back role.

But Baines says he would prefer to continue in the Premier League, rather than move to Germany.