Why Everton should keep hold of Leighton Baines by offering him a new deal
According to The Athletic, Leighton Baines is keen on signing a one-year deal at Everton amidst interest from MLS.
Englishman Baines is a club veteran and has been with the Toffees for the past 13 years. A regular first-choice left-back during his heydays, the 35-year-old has become a back-up for Frenchman Lucas Digne.
Digne, meanwhile, has nailed down his place as a regular in Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The 25-year-old’s constant selection has seen the more experienced Baines mostly warming the benches this year. He has so far made just six appearances across all competitions.
However, despite the snub, the Athletic claims that Baines is willing to pen down a new contract for one more year as per the wish of coach Ancelotti.
Baines, meanwhile, had attracted interest from MLS sides LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC last summer. A transfer to the States could be a good opportunity for the seasoned left-back, who has been struggling for game time since Digne’s arrival in the summer of 2018.
However, having landed at the Merseyside club back in 2007, it remains to be seen if the Englishman would even prefer a move elsewhere. A proven set-piece specialist, Baines had made the left-back position his own until the last couple of years and was one of their consistent performers.
He has made just four league appearances this season and has played the whole 90 minutes in just two games – against Arsenal and Manchester United. He even captained the side in the game against Arsenal, signifying his importance in the squad despite his constant snub.
Also, Baines is just ten games short of former Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard’s record of being the most capped Premier League player. A regular in the side until the 2018-19 season, Baines has played 417 matches for the Merseyside club across all competitions.
Despite being a full-back, Baines has a keen eye for goal that has seen him rack up 39 goals to date in all competitions. Baines is also a decent assist-provider and has 69 assists to his credit.
Meanwhile, it is no big surprise Ancelotti wants the experienced Baines to stay back for another year as Everton are short of established full-backs. He is the only available left-back who could act as a stand-in for first-choice man Digne at the moment.
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Baines is a club legend, having worn his heart on his sleeve for Everton since 2007. Though he has slowed down in recent years, he was one of the most consistent players in the league and this, by all means, will only be useful to the Merseyside club.
Also, the lack of quality players in the left-back role leaves Everton with no other option but to hold on to their veteran campaigner. Hence, Everton should keep hold of him at least until they find a back-up option for Digne.