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Recent history suggests Luke Garbutt may leave Everton

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Full-back is out of contract in the summer with no deal looking imminent

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Luke Garbutt's contract situation is one of the more bizarre sagas that have rumbled on during this troublesome season.

The 21-year-old's deal runs out at the end of the season and so is free - if he so chooses - to leave on a free transfer. In fact he has been free to talk to other clubs since he entered the final six months of his deal in January.

Garbutt joined Everton as a youngster from Leeds in 2009 and after loan spells at  Cheltenham and Colchester made his Everton first-team breakthrough this season.

He has made nine appearances so far, though with Leighton Baines in front of him Garbutt is always going to have a fight on his hands for a regular first-team place.

Whether that is behind the delay in signing a new deal I don't know, but the fact nothing has been confirmed suggests to me that Garbutt is on his way.

Because if he was going to stay what benefit would he get in delaying the signing of his new contract? What is going to change between now and the end of the season next month? If anything he would be denying himself money if, as expected, the new deal would include a payrise.

If you think the situation sounds familiar you would be right - the last person to run his contract down at Everton and continually give excuses along the way was David Moyes in 2013, and look what happened there.

Moyes gave differing reasons throughout the campaign as to why he had not yet signed a new deal, at first saying is would depend on what happened in January and then pushing it back to the end of the season.

It meant that when Man Utd came calling he was conveniently free to move to Old Trafford as a free agent without a single penny of compensation going Everton's way.

Convenient? Very. Though Moyes has always denied any prior knowledge of Man Utd's interest even if the evidence suggests otherwise.

For that reason take these latest comments from Roberto Martinez with a pinch of salt, except perhaps the final sentence, which may give us a glimpse as to what the reality of the situation really is:

"Luke Garbutt is one of the prime examples of the focus that we have in our academy players.

"He's been terrific in terms of going through the programme that we put in place and we're looking forward to having Luke for the future and for many years to come.

"Obviously his situation is something that needs to be solved and I'm sure that's something we're going to look into in the summer and we'll be able to find a solution in that respect.

"At the moment, we've got four games left and the only thing we want to concentrate on is him fighting for his place and keep working in the way he's been doing.

"Sometimes you see a young player that hasn't been on the pitch in the first-team lately but it doesn't mean he hasn't been having really good work.

"He's been working really well and the contract situation, I don't see it as a big issue.

"If Luke Garbutt wants to stay at Everton, we want Luke to stay at our football club so I don't see it as an issue."

It looks like the ball is well and truly in Garbutt's court.