Manchester United manager David Moyes fears that his hopes of reinforcing in the crucial left-back slot, which he considers one of the squad's weak spots, will be dashed again this January.
Moyes' attempts to prise Leighton Baines from Everton this summer have left him deeply unconvinced that his former chairman, Bill Kenwright, will be willing to consider another offer next month, as United attempt to strengthen their squad to preserve their Champions League status.
Neither does Moyes believe that Southampton will be willing to sell 18-year-old Luke Shaw next month. In part, Moyes' pessimism is based on Everton's determination to hold on to Baines, despite the impressive contribution of Bryan Oviedo during the England international's absence with a broken toe. But the United manager also knows that it is not in Baines' character to make demands to leave.
Though Baines did tell his manager Roberto Martinez last summer that he wanted Everton to accept United's bid for his services, Moyes knows that the 29-year-old does not have the same force of personality that led Marouane Fellaini to push to leave during the same period. Moyes may go back for Baines next summer, when the player's contract will have only 12 months left to run. That would mean another six months of dependency on Patrice Evra, who has impressed Moyes behind the scenes, following a deadline day which threatened to drive a wedge between manager and player.
When it became clear a Baines deal would not succeed in August, Moyes was so desperate for a left-back he tried to secure Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao on loan, though that deal also fell through when the Spanish club pulled the plug. In such circumstances, Moyes has been hugely impressed with the dressing-room presence of Evra, who has even told the new manager that he believes United need another left-back.
The club's prime requirement is a midfield reinforcement, though the prospect of Moyes going to Everton for another of his former players, Ross Barkley, is thought unlikely, since he is seen as a player best utilised in the role Wayne Rooney already fills.
Martinez has indicated that he is not willing to sell Barkley even for a price matching Gareth Bale's £86m transfer fee to Real Madrid next month. But the terrain may be easier for United – or another prospective buyer – next summer if the kind of fee is offered for Barkley which would allow Everton to buy quality replacements.
Moyes has watched the Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, who is valued at £30m, though the player is cup-tied for the Champions League and it is thought unlikely that he would be brought in next month, despite United's need to burst back into the Premier League top four.