Roberto Martinez has offered his guarantee that Leighton Baines will still be an Everton player when the transfer window shuts next month.
The England international is largely regarded as the best left fullback in the Premier League, so it was no surprise when David Moyes tried to lure him to Manchester United in the summer. However, the former Toffees boss, who did take Marouane Fellaini from Goodison Park, was told the defender was not for sale at any price.
Despite this, the Reds boss is expected to make an improved bid for Baines when the window reopens, as he looks for more competition and an eventual successor to Patrice Evra. But speaking ahead of their 2-1 win over Southampton on Sunday afternoon, Martinez has guaranteed that the former Wigan Athletic ace is staying put.
“In football you don’t work long term, you go window to window and I can guarantee that Leighton Baines will be here at the end of the season,” said the Spaniard. “That is 100 per cent. That is how you work from window to window – to have a stronger squad than previously. Leighton is vital for us in the second half of the season.”
Baines was thought to be keen to make the move to Old Trafford during the summer, but out of respect for his hometown club, refused to push the issue. He remains under contract on Merseyside until 2015, by which time he will be 30, but Everton hope to tie him to a contract before this date, which would see him end his career at the club.