Leighton Baines will eclipse Ashley Cole as England’s best left-back – and soon. He looks and plays like he’s from the late 60’s to early 70s. And there is not a team in the Premier League he couldn’t play for. David Moyes has cultivated his talent from a young player with the potential to be good, to a great player who could easily captain England one day.
So here’s some of the reasons Baines should be seen as one of, if not the best, fullback in the Premiership.
The guy can hit them. left side, right side, down the middle, he’s got power, curl, and accuracy. Something he’s built up by playing on the wing attacking and defending hitting crosses in to where Marouane Fellaini can put his head on them.
Not only does he assist goals, he scores them as well. The 28-year-old has scored five goals from 28 starts. The best return for a full-back in the Premier League this year.
He’s fast. He’s not breath-taking Theo Walcott or Gareth Bale fast, but the man can run. There are not many forwards that he can’t catch up with and Everton have seen that pay off over the last few seasons.
Tackles and strength
He’s accurate and rarely misses a tackle. Everton let in three goals in five minutes to Wigan on the weekend; but it’s probably fair to say that Baines wasn’t at fault. Wigan’s first goal was from a corner, on the right side of the goal, and if had been on the left, you’ll see from the replays that he would have prevented it, because he was standing strong on the line. Wigan's second goal was surely Phil Neville’s error, and their third goal was also way out on the right. I think without Baines it could have been much more, in the same five minutes.
You can probably count the number of times he’s gone to ground this season on one hand and all of them have been legitimate fouls. Surely that’s Moyes’ doing, but not many footballers – even Everton players – can say the same. Baines is the kind of player that gets cut down and stands back up again before the whistle goes.
I think it’s this honesty and acknowledgement of gratitude that will keep Baines at Everton for the rest of his career - at least until Moyes moves on or retires.
I’m not saying that Baines should seek a move to a more ‘successful’ club because I think that Moyes is taking Everton in the right direction; surely his great tactics and man managing skills will pay off soon. But surely he’s the most deserving of all the fullbacks in the Premier League of Champions League football.
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