at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Everton defender Leighton Baines has committed his future to the club after signing a new four-year deal, the Premier League club announced on Monday.
The England international had 17 months left on his contract at Goodison Park and despite reports that he was wanted by former manager David Moyes at Manchester United, the 29-year-old left back has chosen to remain at Goodison Park.
“It would be an understatement to say we are delighted to secure the best footballing years of Leighton Baines at our club,” manager Roberto Martinez told the club's official website (www.evertonfc.com).
“It's a massive boost and exciting for the future. Leighton has just turned 29 and brings the right measure of maturity and football knowledge in a very specialised position on the pitch, bringing an infectious and positive influence to the rest of the squad.”
Baines joined Everton from Wigan in 2007 and has developed into one of the club's most reliable players, making more than 260 appearances.
He is also a key member of Roy Hodgson's England side and is competing with veteran Chelsea full back Ashley Cole for a starting spot ahead of the World Cup in Brazil in June.
“I know that every fan will be delighted with the news and we all share that excitement looking at what's left of this campaign and beyond,” Martinez added.
“With the crucial games we have ahead, it is going to be vitally important to have Leighton's experience there to help us fight for our aims.”
Everton have made a promising start under Martinez since the Spaniard replaced Moyes at the start of the season with the side sitting sixth in the Premier League, just a point behind Merseyside neighbours Liverpool, who occupy fourth place.
The Merseysiders are also through to the fifth round of the FA Cup in which they have been drawn at home to Swansea City. – Reuters