Roberto Martinez Comments on Leighton Baines' Future Amid Transfer Speculation
Leighton Baines is an iconic figure, but every player can leave a football club. That was Roberto Martinez’s overriding message after being asked about the Everton defender’s future this week.
Baines turned in a typically adventurous performance for England as they secured World Cup qualification against Poland—providing a magnificent cross for Wayne Rooney’s opening goal.
The left-back was a substantial transfer target of Manchester United during the summer and is expected to receive a further approach in January, per Rob Draper of the Daily Mail. Martinez, though, is not worried.
Dominic King of the Mail provides the quotes:
You're not going to stop the rumours and the talk; that comes with a player performing so well. You are always going to get that.
So I'm not concerned about that. All I want is Leighton to be proud of being an Everton footballer, carry on enjoying his football and carry on performing in the manner that he's been doing. That's the only thing I want.
Leighton is an icon for us. He's not just a top left-back, he's an Evertonian and an icon of the club.
It is about what he represents to us so signing a contract or not. Edison Cavani signed a contract (for Napoli) and was sold (in the summer to Paris St Germain). Throughout the world of football, footballers have become big assets and that's not going to change.
King highlights the fact Baines has 20 months left on his current Everton deal. If the Toffees fail to tie him to a new one, they will leave themselves open to losing him for a fraction of his full value next summer.
The looming World Cup throws up an intriguing dilemma for Baines, who will be keen to establish himself as England’s first-choice left-back ahead of Ashley Cole.
Until Cole’s recent spell on the sidelines with a rib injury, which forced him to miss the games against Montenegro and Poland, Baines had been the clear backup to the left-back role.
By joining United and playing Champions League football—for which he would be eligible—he would give himself the greatest platform on which to prove his reliability at the highest level.
However, a move to Old Trafford brings several risks. At Everton Baines is the star of the club and comfortable in his role. Injury-permitting, he will play every game this season.
Should Baines join Man Utd?
At United the 28-year-old would likely require a settling-in period. He would also face the prospect of playing second fiddle to Patrice Evra.
As Martinez notes, Baines represents the soul of the club and will therefore have to force his move if he wants to leave. That upset is something that could destabilise the player’s form this campaign—not to be recommended ahead of a World Cup.
David Moyes is expected to fight to get his man, as he did with Marouane Fellaini. But Baines would be best advised not to agree to a reunion until the summer at the earliest.
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