Everton veterans Leighton Baines and Gareth Barry have signed contract extensions this morning that will keep them at Goodison Park for a further two and one year respectively. Youngster Mason Holgate has also extended his contract, securing his future at the club.
By giving the two older players short extensions, the club can ensure that there is continuity while Steve Walsh goes about finding and grooming long term successors in both the left back and defensive midfield positions.
Baines, who just turned 32 a few days ago, has played 351 times for the Blues and is in his tenth season here extended his contract to June 2019.
Barry is currently 35 and in his third season with the Blues, and has extended his contract one more season until June 2018. The midfielder is only second to Ryan Giggs in terms of most number of games played in the Premier League.
Manager Ronald Koeman sees the pair as dressing room and on-pitch leaders -
“With Leighton, his attitude is always perfect. He likes to work hard, he likes to learn, he is a technical player with a good view of the game and I’m really happy to have him in the team this season and also for the longer term.
“Offensively, he’s a strong player who can cross the ball well and he has that cleverness in the game and in the moment, a quality that’s not in every player.
“He’s one of the experienced players in our team and what you like to have in your team is a balance in ages in the group. Players like Leighton, Phil Jagielka and Barry are leaders in our dressing room and on the pitch. For younger players, they are a little bit like teachers. They have that experience and young players need to listen to them for they will learn.
“Like Leighton, Gareth Barry is a clever player on the pitch. Only Ryan Giggs has played more games in the Premier League and let’s hope he will smash every record. He’s a quiet person but a strong character. He knows what he can and can’t do.
“He is a key player for the team. Of course, sometimes you need to protect older players, with all due respect. Gareth is 35 but he is still so important for the team and I’m very happy he has extended his contract.”
After the signing, both players spoke to evertontv -
Leighton Baines -
“The majority of my career I’ve spent here at Everton and it’s something that I hope will continue even beyond these next few years. I hope I’m always affiliated with Everton. It’s a huge honour for me to play for the Club for as long as I have and I’m very proud to have been here for as long as I have been.
“I’m very lucky as well. You work hard, you look after yourself and you always try to do the right things and the reward for me has been to spend such a long time at such a great club.
"It's an achievement in itself when you think back to being a kid playing football on the streets to becoming a professional footballer - and not just for any club, for a club like this. It's very special."
Gareth Barry -
“The new manager has come in and given me a new lease of life. It’s someone else to try and impress and new tactics to take on board. It’s really helped my game and I’m looking forward to taking that on and enjoying this season, which is hopefully a successful one.
“They say you can’t buy experience and, for me, it feels so much easier going out on the pitch knowing what I know. Obviously there’s different sides of the game that are needed, such as energy, but I feel as comfortable on the pitch as I have ever done and a successful team here is something I want to be part of.”