Why Leighton Baines' New Deal Will Help Keep Ross Barkley at Everton

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Ross Barkley of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Sunderland at Goodison Park on December 26, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Leighton Baines' contract extension finally silenced relentless speculation around his future.

After protracted talks, the left-back signed a new deal in January, committing to the club until 2018 and dismissing persistent links to Manchester United.

This allows Everton to target other needs, such as Ross Barkley's contract—something Baines' stance will aid them with.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Ross Barkley of Everton celebrates scoring the first goal with Bryan Oviedo of Everton during the Budweiser FA Cup Third Round match between Everton and Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park on January 4, 2014 in Liverpool
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Barkley is currently on a deal that expires in 2016. With rumours already predicting a blockbuster move away, Everton would be wise to extend the deal and reward his form.

Regardless of Baines' contract, there's no reason why Barkley wouldn't welcome this. As a devoted Evertonian, the youngster is clearly enjoying his rise and relishing his progress in the first team.

Barkley has even responded to rumours on Twitter, clearly dismissing the notion of leaving and further endearing himself to Everton fans:

However, Baines' decision will only make his choice easier and erase any doubts over the club's ambition.

Comparisons are constantly made between the Toffees' current prodigy and Wayne Rooney, who left a beleaguered Everton consistently flirting with relegation.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 13:  Wayne Rooney of Everton scores the winning goal past John Curtis of Portsmouth during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Everton and Portsmouth at Goodison Park on March 13, 2004 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Matching Baines' ambition emphasises the obvious difference between then and now.

Barkley has seen the Toffees fight for a key player, constantly rejecting offers and convincing him to rule out any future move to Manchester United.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND -  AUGUST 13 : Wayne Rooney  of Manchester Utd is acknowledged by the Everton fans after the first goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on August 13, 2005 in Liverpool, Englan
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

That's already a stark contrast to the time of Rooney's departure.

Back then, Everton had just spent seven of the past eight seasons languishing among the Premier League's bottom seven.

Any time a player attracted interest or wanted to depart, they would almost certainly goas in the case of Nick Barmby, Francis Jeffers, Michael Ball and many others.

16 Oct 1999:  Nick Barmby of Everton (right) is challenged by Marc Overmars of Arsenal during the FA Carling Premiership match at Highbury in London, England. Arsenal won the match 4 - 1. \ Mandatory Credit: Phil Cole /Allsport
Phil Cole/Getty Images

Things are very much different in this present time. Aside from one season, the club have spent a decade in the top eight and there is far more control over exactly who departs.

Being a top-eight side keeps more players in the spotlight. However, while Everton have still sold some leading performers, many movessuch as Jack Rodwell and Marouane Fellainiwere smart business and essentially welcomed.

They provided excellent revenue and funds to advance the squad andmost importantlyEverton had far more freedom to choose.

Baines' deal has shown just how much the Toffees have progressed over the past 10 years. He clearly believes in his manager's vision and is satisfied he can maintain his England spot and fight for European football.

For now, this is enough for Barkley, too. As many anticipate, he will most likely sign a new deal over the coming weeks and commit himself to his boyhood club.

Everton currently sit just two points off a Champions League berth. If they can eventually bridge the gap between themselves and the top four, Barkley will have far less desire to ever seek a move.