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Baines' best 'yet to come'

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Everton's Leighton Baines. Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Everton's Leighton Baines. Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Everton's Leighton Baines. Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez hailed Leighton Baines' new contract as the club's biggest possible January signing.

The England international has signed a new four-year deal which the Toffees boss believes will see the club benefit from the left-back's best years of his career.

Baines, 29, had been a target for former manager David Moyes at Manchester United, who had two bids rejected in the summer, but Martinez has persuaded him to extend his stay at Goodison Park – providing a significant boost on the eve of the 222nd Merseyside derby at Anfield.

"It is an important moment for us," said Martinez. "You are talking about January signings and bringing players into the club but no-one will be bigger than having Leighton Baines focusing on being as good as he can be for Everton in the best years of his career.

"He has been performing as one the best left-backs in European football and the best is yet to come."

The timing of the news may well have been stage-managed by Everton as they head to Anfield looking for their first league win since Kevin Campbell scored the only goal in September 1999.

It is a psychological hurdle which needs to be overcome but having ended a 21-year wait for a victory at Old Trafford last month, Martinez sees no reason why they cannot repeat the feat at Anfield.

"This season we have been tested in that respect: going to the Emirates and being able to perform how we did (drawing 1-1) and going to Old Trafford and winning after 21 years means as a group we are ready to go anywhere and be ourselves," the Toffees boss said.


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