Leighton Baines Proves Himself as Leading European Creator

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterJanuary 14, 2013

Everton full-back Leighton Baines has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park.
Everton full-back Leighton Baines has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park.Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Everton defender Leighton Baines is one of the most coveted players operating in the Premier League this season.

The England international has been linked with Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail, while The Independent reported interest from Chelsea in the player.

The 28-year-old has formed a superb partnership with South African winger Steven Pienaar on the left flank at Goodison Park.

Baines, though, was the architect of seven goalscoring opportunities during Saturday's goalless draw with Swansea City at Goodison, according to opta stats in fourfourtwo magazine.

The former Wigan Athletic player's created opportunities also made him the leading provider across the five major European leagues including France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Baines has been responsible for creating 76 chances this season for the Blues, with he and Pienaar making 126, while the rest of the Everton squad have made 162 opportunities, according to EPLIndex analysis.

The left-back has been improving across the whole of his game, though, with his tackling success rate rising to 80 percent from 71.93 percent, and his passing accuracy has increased seven percent.

Baines has attempted a colossal 205 crosses this season with his accuracy rising from 28 percent to 32 percent, and only Reading's Nicky Shorey has a greater number of accuracy in crossing.

Baines' 76 chances created so far in the Premier League mean that he is on course to break the 100-mark barrier in the remaining 16 matches of the campaign.