Next up in our player by player review of the past Everton season, in which each individual will be recapped and rated is: Leighton Baines.
The veteran leftback did not get too see the pitch too much, mostly because of the incredible performances that Lucas Digne - the Everton Player of the Season - continued to put in week in and week out.
Baines did feature in a couple of games but crucially was unfit as Wolverhampton overran the Blues at Goodison ending any hopes of seventh place and crucially what became a Europa League qualifying berth.
The 34-year-old started seven games for the Blues, including one in each of the Cups. In the games he did feature, he maintained more of a traditional defensive positioning partly as he’s lost a step or two since his prime and would easily get caught out upfield.
Baines’ best is clearly behind him at this point, and his performances on the pitch showed it too. While his veteran leadership is valuable, the club leadership will have to decide whether it’s still needed or not.
Marco Silva showed a reliance on using the left side in attack especially with how well Digne and Bernard were combining on the wing. The last game he played any significant minutes was the 1-0 away win at Huddersfield Town, and he spent most of it camped at the halfway line as the Blues moved the ball more than half the time down the left.
Baines did play in the League Cup exit against Southampton, stepping up to the spot first to score in the penalty shootout like he always has. He was on the bench for the ill-fated loss away at Millwall in the FA Cup.
The Kirkby-born player’s contract expires this season, and there has been some talk from Marco Silva about working out a possible extension. However, there’s also the school of thought that in this new Everton led by Marcel Brands there’s no room for sentiment.
The veteran has been with the Blues for twelve years now and there are few who have served the club as selflessly and tirelessly like Baines has. The greater Merseyside community as a whole has also benefited from his off-the-pitch work with local mental health charities, and it would be wonderful to keep the legend around the club in some honorary capacity when the ‘Fifth Beatle’ decides to hang up his boots.
Not necessarily a slight on the player, just an accurate reflection of the impact he currently makes on this side.