As widely expected, Leighton Baines will continue to be a Blue for one more season. The player signed a one-year extension to stay with Everton after the expiry of his last deal, and with the departure of Phil Jagielka becomes the longest-tenured player at the club and also likely to become the new club captain for the upcoming season.
Speaking to evertontv after signing the deal, Baines indicated that he was as proud today as he was when he first came over a dozen years ago from Wigan Athletic.
“You do as you get older realise the work you need to do to sustain the level required by the Club.
“And to be judged to be at that level in the later stages of your career is testament to the work you do.
“You take pride in it all.
“When you look at the back end of last season and how well we played and the results we picked up against some good teams it gives us plenty of optimism going into this season.
“We are confident about what we can do and striving to achieve success.”
Despite losing his starting spot to Lucas Digne, the veteran was always highly commended by Marco Silva and Baines said that the message was relayed to him multiple times throughout the season by the manager and the club leadership.
“I had a couple of conversations with the manager and he reiterated those things [Silva’s faith in Baines’s ability] and gave me the belief that it wasn’t only words to the media – it was things he meant.
“It was always in my mind to stay because of talks I’ve had with the manager and Marcel. I have had numerous conversations with Marcel and I spent more time with him and got to know more about him towards the back end of last season and during the off-season.
“And I became more and more impressed with him from having that one-on-one time and understanding his vision and the direction he’s trying to take the Club. That gives you more optimism about where the Club is headed.
“It was nice to hear what the manager said about me, because he was someone new coming in and I am further on in my career. It is good to have those challenges and you are always pushed to prove yourself.
“I try to do that every day, I take my responsibilities seriously. And whether I am in the starting XI or not, I am going to do the same things day in, day out, in case I am called upon.”
Baines needs just 14 more Premier League appearances to catch the Everton leader Tim Howard and plans to continue to challenge Digne throughout the coming season.
“It is a new challenge for me in terms of the fact I have not played as much football as I have been used to. But I have also not lost sight of the fact I have been very lucky to play the amount of football I have during my career.
“I appreciate what I have had and will keep working for whatever I can get. But working under the manager and in those new circumstances has been good.
“From my point of view, my relationship with the Club and fans has been healthy pretty much the whole time I have been here. It is never completely smooth sailing and you never expect it to be in a job like this.
“But I have felt really well supported by the Club and fans throughout my time here, and that support is not something I never take for granted.”
While it’s taken some getting used to for us as fans to not see Baines’ #3 jersey out there every time Everton are on the pitch, nevertheless we appreciate having his veteran savvy still with the club and guiding the Toffees through a new era under Brands and Silva.