Picture the scene – Bill Kenwright, fresh from chairing the Club’s EGM, the first of such for five years, is sitting in his office. Surrounding the walls is all sorts of photography of Everton’s history and football memorabilia. It’s 5.30pm, it has been a long, tiring day already and Bill is looking to leave. Suddenly, the phone rings and it’s David Moyes…
“Hi Bill, David here. I know we sort of had an agreement I wouldn’t come in for your players, but I want Leighton. I’m offering £12m, which I’m sure you’ll agree is an excellent price, so, what d’you reckon?”
I am of course referencing the reported bid from Manchester United to Everton for left-back Leighton Baines and yes, Kenwright answering the phone is a hypothetical scenario that as a fan I’ve envisaged in my head – but you can imagine what the response would be from the Everton chairman and every other Evertonian had the scene been real – a firm slam of the phone without even a ‘thanks but no thanks’.
It hasn’t come as a surprise that there is interest for arguably the best-performing left-back in Europe, let alone the league.
With David Moyes now officially installed as Manchester United boss, it isn’t too much of a surprise that he wants Baines. With rumours of Patrice Evra leaving for Monaco, Moyes knows he could trust Baines to replace the Frenchman and perform at the highest level.
From an Everton point of view and in my opinion, Baines is simply irreplaceable and should not be sold at ANY price, no matter how high.
Baines joined Everton from Wigan in 2007 and initially found it tough to break into the first team due mainly to the outstanding performances of Joleon Lescott, who filled in at the left-back position at the time.
It took a full season for Baines to settle in and it would not be long before his talent and ability would be there for all to see and he would become a regular starter.
A wonderful defensive display in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United, ironically, cemented Baines position as the rightful owner to the left-back position.
From the 2009/10 season, his performances matured and we began to see that wonderful ability he has to get forward and offer an attacking option. His threat from set-pieces and his pinpoint crossing accuracy aside, we witnessed him grow into a real technically-gifted player and in the seasons since, Evertonians have seen just how good a player he really is.
Baines’ partnership with Steven Pienaar has produced intricate and breath-taking football that has left opposition players mesmerised, something which would be greatly missed if he left. His injury record is fantastic and this was proven by him being the only outfield player to play every minute of every Premier League game last season.
To put it simply, the current Everton Player of the Year is every bit a fans’ favourite, probably the most popular player amongst fans.
We understand his worth, we marvel at his ability and we love that he is a local lad, he is one of us.
Fans have accepted that Marouane Fellaini will probably be sold – yes we would like to keep him, but if he has to leave, we’ll move on. If Baines leaves, the majority of fans – including myself – would be left heartbroken.
Moyes, who we were told had given his word to Kenwright that he would not bid for some of Everton’s star players, has quite frankly come in with a paltry offer.
It’s perfectly understandable he wants to acquire a player of Baines’ talent – but when you consider the astronomical fees being paid for players with similar ability, United’s offer seems a touch on the low side.
If he was honest, Moyes would admit that he would not have accepted such an offer had he still been Everton manager. He stated that much himself when he declared ‘Everton do not sell their players cheaply’ so why does he expect any different now he is United’s manager?
Everton are preparing for an improved offer from United. It will be interesting to see what we do now – hold out for a high price deemed acceptable to sell or put a new contract in front of Baines.
I know when Manchester United come calling, rarely do you not end up playing for them – and the offer must be very tempting for Baines. I also appreciate that getting somewhere in the region of £15m or £16m plus for a player who is 28 years old would be a lot of money for Everton to recoup and reinvest, but for me Baines is different.
He is so much more than a left-back, than a defender. He offers us so much and Evertonians relate to him more than any other player at the moment. How and when this saga will end, I am unsure of. I just pray come September, when the transfer window slams shut, Leighton Baines is still wearing the Royal Blue of Everton.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.