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Since his arrival at Merseyside in the summer of 2007, Leighton Baines has been serving as the crucial icon in Everton’s campaign every season. Free-kicks, long range shooting, aerial prowess and putting in valuable crosses are the notable peculiar features of the English international.
Baines has started his senior career with Wigan Athletic in 2002 in the lower division of English football. He played a pivotal role in promoting the Wigan side to the Premier League in 2005. Baines spent further two seasons with Latics before signing for Everton in 2007. Everton paid £6M for the Englishman and considering his performances, the money spent on him is found to be the huge bargain for the Toffees.
Baines is seriously vulnerable to the opponents in Toffees’ attack and capable of taking a role in defense when the emergency cover is very much needed. The return of Steven Pienaar in 2012 has made Baines as a complete player as his partnership with the South African in the left flank is working very well.
The dominance of Ashley Cole in world football for the past 8-10 years has always kept Baines as the second choice left back in England international team. When England FA have appointed Roy Hodgson as their new manager in March 2012, it was expected that Baines would be preferred as first choice left back for Euros.
But, Hodgson too fell under the category of managers who have shown much more faith in Cole. On the other hand, Cole had a very good tournament in Ukraine-Poland, though he missed the penalty in shoot-outs against Italy in the quarter finals.
Baines has been linked with many of the top Premier League sides since last summer, with Manchester United and Chelsea among the suitors. The decline in the abilities of Patrice Evra and more likely the departure of Ashley Cole in the upcoming summer will push forward the Premier League giants to impose interesting bids on Baines in the summer.
The new Manchester United signing, Alexander Buttner has featured only once in the Premier League so far. This shows the lack of trust which Alex Ferguson has on the Dutch left back and indicates that the Red Devils will certainly look for a left back – and Baines will surely be on their radar come this summer.
Ashley Cole’s intention to leave Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago will certainly pull them to look for Baines though they have a ready-made replacement in the form of Ryan Bertrand. Bertrand made his Champions League debut in the final against Munich and put up an impressive performance.
The Chelsea left back had got some sort of backing from the sacked coach, Roberto Di Matteo in the new season. However, the appointment of Rafa Benitez has forced him to spend more time on bench. So, as Baines being afforded the regular playing time which is much more than Bertrand and considering the experience, we can expect a big bid from Roman Abramovich in the summer.
Being just 28, Baines has plenty of successive odd years to come. I reckon he will be a part of English international team till the 2018 World Cup which will be played in Russia. No questions will arise in including Baines in the English squad for the 2014 World cup and 2016 Euros irrespective of the manager in charge.
Though his place in the starting XI in 2014 World Cup is on hold, there is no doubt that he will soon be a permanent fixture at left back in future tournaments and events.
Written by Raghuvarman Sampathu
Follow him on Twitter @Crazy_LFC_Fan
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