Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti heaped praise on Leighton Baines and reiterated his desire to see left-back sign on with the club for another season.
Baines, 35, has been at Goodison Park since 2007 and, out of contract at the end of the month, has been offered a fresh one-year deal by Everton.
And speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Norwich, Ancelotti spoke glowingly again about Baines:
“We offered a new contract because Leighton, as a professional, player and man, is really important for us.
“At the end of the season he will decide.
The trip to Norwich will be Everton’s second game since the Premier League restarted following Sunday’s 0-0 home draw with Liverpool.
It was a positive performance from the Blues, particularly from Seamus Coleman, exceptional at right-back, and Ancelotti called on his players to replicate that level of performance in every game:
“I think the players have to show quality and character for the shirt they wear every week.
“Our captain is a fantastic example of this. [Coleman] shows all he has for the club and the shirt that he wears.”
Ancelotti also handed a first Premier League start to 19-year-old winger Anthony Gordon on Sunday, as a reward for his impressive training performances but also perhaps a result of Everton’s current injury crisis.
And the manager said he continues to be impressed by the attitude of Gordon, as well as other youngster on the bench on Sunday in Jarrad Branthwaite and Beni Baningime:
“We had some injuries and it gave [Gordon, Branthwaite and Baningime] the chance to train with us and play with us.
“They are doing well. When you choose substitutes, it is difficult to say to the players: ‘watch the game in the stand’.
“It is better they watch from the stand, it is a good experience from them. Maybe they will be able to play some part of the games.”
Ancelotti also took the opportunity to stress how closely Everton are looking at summer transfer targets, even while the remainder of this elongated Premier League season runs its course.
The Italian added he is in constant dialogue with director of football with Marcel Brands, but did admit his primary focus for now is the rest of this campaign:
“We have talked with Marcel Brands every single day about players for the future. The staff spent time to watch players around the world so we have a clear idea for the market.
“In this period we are focused on our game. We are trying to finish well this season and after that we have time.
“I’m not so sure about the date, but I think the market will be open until October so we have time to talk about the new season.”
All quotes courtesy of Liverpool Echo.