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Baines ends speculation with new deal

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Everton received a significant boost ahead of the 222nd Merseyside derby at Anfield after Leighton Baines signed a new four-year contract.

The England left-back had been a target for Manchester United and former manager David Moyes, who had two bids rejected in the summer.

However, Everton have been working behind the scenes for the last couple of months to tie the 29-year-old down to a new four-year deal and manager Roberto Martinez revealed that had been completed a day before they face near-neighbours Liverpool.

"To be able to secure Leighton's best years at Everton means a lot, especially in this January (transfer) window where we are talking about having a strong squad going into the second half of the season," Martinez said.

"You look how important he is with the daily standards, the influence he has with the younger players. I am just looking what Leighton can do in the next four years in the dressing room and it is going to be as good as it gets."

Martinez said the fact they had managed to stave off interest from United and persuade Baines to sign a new deal spoke volumes.

"It represents a strong intent of trying to progress and get stronger and Leighton will bring that on the football pitch," he added.

Meanwhile, Steven Naismith has expressed his sympathy for teammate Bryan Oviedo, who broke his leg in two places during Everton's 4-0 win over Stevenage in the FA Cup.

Fracture

Oviedo will have an operation today to repair the double fracture caused to his left leg by the right boot of Stevenage midfielder Simon Heslop.

The Costa Rican looked set to play a key role in Everton's push for Champions League qualification, but now he will have to endure a long and hard road back to full fitness.

"This was probably the first time in his Everton career where he has had a run of games and he has shown his potential," Naismith said.

"Everyone has been able to see what he has got and everyone in the team will be looking out for him now."

But the Spaniard can take encouragement from the way his team so easily avoided a fourth-round upset at League One's bottom side on Saturday.

Naismith scored twice in the first half before substitutes John Heitinga and Magaye Gueye rounded off the win.


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