"It is an area we're paying attention to. With him (Fabio da Silva) at QPR for a year, we are a little bit short in that department." - Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson's admission that releasing Fabio da Silva to QPR has left him short of cover would appear a managerial gaffe. But there is a school of thought inside United that Fabio's long-term position is in midfield, where he would eventually fill the void left by Park Ji-sung, now with him at Loftus Road.
At 27, Baines is a favourite of Ferguson's, who has asked close friend Dave Whelan, the Wigan Athletic chairman, about the Everton fullback's character and application. His energy and ability to actually dominate games from such a wide position is the epitome of what Ferguson seeks in his fullbacks, from Patrice Evra to Gabriel Heinze and all the way back to Denis Irwin.
But with money needed to fund deals for Sao Paulo attacking midfielder Lucas and Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, the £15 million Everton are demanding for their England international is regarded as excessive by Ferguson and may force him to turn elsewhere.
Left-back has been on Ferguson's agenda for the past 12 months. His brother, Martin, made checks on several candidates last season, including Granada's Brazilian Guilherme Siqueira and Rayo Vallecano's Tito.
FC Copenhagen's Bryan Oviedo has also claimed interest from United, with Costa Rican media sources only last week suggesting a bid had been lodged for the youngster.
At 18, the Dutchman was the youngest player at this summer's Euros and did not look out of place. Tongues were wagging last season when Martin Ferguson was spotted at back-to-back PSV games. It was suggested the subject of his interest was PSV midfielder Kevin Strootman.
However, its understood it was Willems United were watching with the view to bringing him to Old Trafford for the new season. PSV know all about Willems' growing reputation in England and secured him to a new four-year deal in April.
Barely two years ago, Willems was playing street soccer, but is now regarded as Holland's first-choice at left-back.
"You're now seeing what we've known all along," he said. "He is a very big talent."
Ferguson is in agreement and is actively exploring whether he can bring Willems to England before the market shuts next month. The delays are being caused by his other transfer targets and whether there will be enough in his summer budget to add Willems to a campaign that he hopes will yield Lucas and Van Persie, along with completed signings Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa.
THE CANDIDATES DISCUSSED AT MANCHESTER UNITED:
Bryan Oviedo (FC Copenhagen)
"I know there are multiple offers. There's still six weeks to go before the market closes. I'll wait and see what is the best option. Obviously if it was Manchester United that would be the first option."
Alvaro Pereira (Porto):
"I came here three years ago and have always given my best. I am contracted until 2016, but feel this is the right time to leave. I could've joined Chelsea last season, but was stopped. I respected that decision. If there is any opportunity to leave I hope they understand this time and let me go."
Robbie Brady (Manchester United):
"Young Robbie Brady will be at left-back. He's actually an outside-left, but we believe there's the possibility he will develop into a left-back. He was on loan last year at Hull City and did very well." - Sir Alex Ferguson.