Leighton Baines signing his new contract this week is a further sign of the changing times at Goodison Park. Earlier this season I wrote about how Roberto Martinez is changing the mentalities of everyone associated with Everton and this latest development is a clear indication in the change of style at the club.
It has been well documented over the years that Everton do not have the financial clout to rival their contemporaries in the higher reaches of the Premier League. Even the likes of Stoke, Cardiff and Norwich have spent more money in recent seasons than the Blues, and with that has come a culture of selling our best players. Wayne Rooney was the first, then Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta and even Marouane Fellaini in the summer. All were influential players who Everton had to eventually sell when bigger clubs came knocking, not that they did bad business on them. In fact, most would argue that each of those deals, except probably Rooney, worked out better for Everton than the players. Regardless, it was well known that Everton had to sell to buy. We were a selling club.
Leighton Baines signing his new contract this week changes that. All summer he has found himself courted by Manchester United yet Martinez insisted he wouldn't be leaving. Few would have believed the Spaniard though, expecting the Scouser to leave in January to one of Europe's bigger clubs. At 29, some argued that his best footballing years could be behind him, Martinez feels the exact opposite, and making a healthy profit on the £6million they paid Wigan for his services would again be good business. Everton refused though, and his new four-year contract is a clear signal of intent to the rest of the league that no longer will they be selling their best players.
This new philosophy fits nobody better than Ross Barkley. His impressive first season in the Premier League has made him Everton's shining light and has inevitably caught the eye of many a rival club. Already he has been linked with £40million pound moves to Chelsea and Manchester United, with the press stating that Everton are not in a position to turn down such offers. With Baines signing his contract though, the youngster knows that the club means business. It is a signal of intent to the rest of the league as much as it is one to the rest of the players at the club, and future signings in the long run. Stay at Everton and play every week with quality players, come to Everton and do the same.
It is also a further sign of those changing mentalities at Everton. The resignation of the latter years of the Moyes era, in which that we could not break through that glass ceiling, has been eradicated by the positivity that emanates from Roberto Martinez. Many fans will undoubtedly be unhappy at the lack of permanent signings in this January transfer window, expecting the money accrued from the sales of Fellaini, Anichebe and Jelavic to be spent on boosting a squad relying heavily on loan players. However, it is worth remembering that January is not a good time to sign players and the summer will be best used for that process, with the loan signings allowing Martinez to plan ahead accordingly.
Cynics will state that the money will go AWOL and any hopes diminished by the time the summer comes along. Although that may come to be true, Everton will now have the vindication of being able to state that they are a club with star players, a serious bargaining chip for Roberto Martinez. More than that, players can now come to Everton to play with the likes of Barkley and Baines in the knowledge they won't be leaving any time soon and have that promise broken. Once more, our new manager has provided another indication that come what may in the upcoming months, Everton football club is in very safe hands.