Manchester United’s long-standing hopes of signing Leighton Baines have been dealt a huge blow as the left-back has signed a new four-year with the Barclays Premier League club, manager Roberto Martinez has announced.
The England defender, 29, had been a reported target of former Toffees boss David Moyes who is looking to strengthen his Manchester United side. But Everton manager Roberto Martinez has remained confident of keeping the England international at Goodison Park, with Baines today confirming his commitment to the Toffees with a long-term contract.
“We’re delighted Leighton has signed for the next four years,” Martinez said. ‘It’s a massive boost and exciting for the future. Leighton has just turned 29 and brings the right measure of maturity and football knowledge in a very specialised position on the pitch, bringing an infectious and positive influence to the rest of the squad.
“I know that every fan will be delighted with the news and we all share that excitement looking at what’s left of this campaign and beyond. With the crucial games we have ahead, it is going to be vitally important to have Leighton’s experience there to help us fight for our aims.”
Baines joined Everton from Wigan in 2007 in a deal worth £6million after rejecting a move to Sunderland. The defender had 18 months left on his contract at Goodison Park, and Everton management has moved quickly to ensure one of their prized asset will not depart during this transfer window by securing his long-term future at the club.
Securing the defender’s long-term future is a boost for Everton ahead of Tuesday’s Merseyside derby with Liverpool.
Both clubs are fighting to finish in the top four, with the Toffees one point adrift of Liverpool, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.
“We are all aware of the importance of the derby in itself but this one is with extra significance with two teams playing to finish as high as possible,” said Martinez of the Premier League trip to Anfield.
“We are facing one of the toughest teams in the division. At home they are very strong. They are the best team from scoring from dead ball positions and we have to be wary of that.”
While Everton celebrate the news over one left-back their other option in that position, Bryan Oviedo, was to have surgery on Monday after suffering a double fracture of his left leg in the FA Cup win at Stevenage. Martínez said the Costa Rica international’s World Cup remained “up in the air” but he had not ruled out the player from making an appearance in Brazil.
Martinez also said that the club would know within the next two days whether John Heitinga would remain at the club, with the Spaniard revealing two European teams were interested in signing the Dutch defender. The Holland international is keen to have more playing time in a World Cup year with Roma and Galatasaray reportedly interested in signing him.