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Is Buttner better than Baines?

Left back Alexander Buttner is Manchester United's newest defender.

He also cost £13m less than the fee Everton wanted for Leighton Baines.

But have the club ended up with a better deal?

Since making his debut for Vitesse Arnhem in March 2008 and prior to his big move, Buttner had spent his entire senior career at the Eredivisie club.

He started life as a midfielder and his attacking instinct is reflected in his stats from last season, managing to score five goals from left-back.

Now, subject to passing a medical, the 23-year-old will join last season's Premier League runners-up for a fee shy of £4m.

Having made his name as a full-back who loves to bomb forward, there are doubts over his defensive capabilities but there is no doubt that under Sir Alex at Manchester United, the player will grow from strength to strength and improve this side of his game.

If the Dutchman was to be compared to a Premier League full-back now then it would be Tottenham's Kyle Walker - a decent defender but one who does more damage going forward.

Buttner's ability to play in midfield will excite Ferguson and the Scot will hope he can develop into a player like another of Tottenham's - Gareth Bale.

It was Bale's former club Southampton who had originally agreed a deal to sign the left-back back in July but this fell through due the Saints refusing to pay out more than what had been agreed for percentages to a third-party.

He had also been a target for West London clubs Queens Park Rangers and Fulham before ending up in Manchester.

Cover for Evra 

He will be used as cover for Patrice Evra and like Buttner, the Frenchman also started out as a midfielder before making the transition to left-back.

Ferguson's decision to move for Alexander, who is also capable of playing on the right-hand side comes after he allowed Fabio to join QPR on a season-long loan and Everton's refusal to let Leighton Baines leave for anything less than £17m but Buttner's versatility will make him a more useful signing for United than the England international.

While you can't deny that Baines is a quality left-back, he is four years older than his Dutch counterpart and only capable of playing on the left.

An argument for Baines though is that he has scored his fair share of goals for Everton in recent seasons so would also be an attacking threat for Man Utd but most of these goals have come from set-pieces.

With the likes of Wayne Rooney and now Robin van Persie at Old Trafford, how many opportunities would he get to carry this on for the Red Devils from the penalty spot? Not many.

How many starts would Baines even have got for the Manchester club with Ferguson more likely to pick vice-captain Evra over him?

The same could and will be said about Buttner but again, it his versatility which makes him a signing for the future.

His relatively young age of 23, means he will be more prepared to bide his time, and for such a bargain fee there will be no pressure on him and risk of being called a big money 'flop' as would have happened with Baines had he spent his time on the bench.

Evra will need replacing, but he isn't ready to be ushered out of the Old Trafford exit just yet.

Likewise Buttner won't be ready to become a regular right away, so a gradual transition between the two is the perfect solution.

By Simran Sangha

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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