ANOTHER week, another rash of stories appear in the media linking Leighton Baines with a move away from Goodison this summer.
Evertonians are used to the pattern by now and should not expect it to change any time soon.
However, there’s something about the incessant speculation about the Blues’ left back that doesn’t quite ring true.
It’s not that he isn’t good enough to play for United, based on form last season Baines was better than their skipper Patrice Evra and offers a far more attacking threat than the French international.
And certainly, Alex Ferguson is looking to strengthen in that position with Evra aged 31, and seemingly no suitable successor to him currently on the books at Old Trafford.
Yet the stories have stated a whole range of inaccuracies; from claims talks between the two clubs have started, to players David Moyes is ready to swoop for should Baines wave farewell.
Even more strangely, the FA media team allowed Baines - when on press conference duties on Tuesday - to be asked about the stories.
Anyone familiar with the machinations of such international football press conferences will insist it’s rare for questions to be allowed on players’ club futures. It’s not considered fair game, and it’s hard to imagine Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard having to answer similar questions while doing their Three Lions media obligations.
But putting aside that little indication of top four club special treatment, even the 27-year-old’s answers were taken and spun into further stories that he fancied a move. It’s almost as if there is a will for the deal to happen, regardless of whether there’s actual will for it at Goodison or Old Trafford.
But the truth is, that so far, there isn’t. Obviously Everton don’t want to sell, no matter how much they need to trade players if they are to add to their squad this summer.
And while United have certainly considered Baines, the last time they have bought a player aged 27 or older was Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
At just four years younger than Evra, United may well be reluctant to part with the money to sign a player with minimum potential re-sale value.
And the money? Forget £12m as the reports say. Think between £15m and £20m.