With Everton sitting in 5th place in the Barclays Premier League, manager Roberto Martinez will be anxious to ensure that the club’s best players stay put in the January window.
There has been much speculation around the former Everton manager David Moyes wanting to bring 28-year-old Baines to Old Trafford in an effort to make his mark as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.
However Martinez told Sky Sports: "In football you don't work long term, you go window to window and I can guarantee that Leighton will be here at the end of the season; that is 100 per cent.”
Indeed, it would be extremely difficult for Everton to replace a player of Baines’ calibre in the same window; consequently, their league performance would be affected.
“Leighton is vital for us in the second half of the season,” he continued. "Bryan Oviedo has been terrific, but we need Leighton and Bryan fit for us, if we are going to fight for our football dream."
With the Premier League’s top six teams being separated by just six points, Martinez appears to be aware of the need for strength in depth and the subsequent necessity of retaining the services of the club’s top players.
However, a bid for Baines from United is widely expected, and Martinez’s promise is likely to be tested when the window opens.
David Moyes is ultimately concerned about securing a replacement for 32-year-old Patrice Evra, as Alexander Buttner has not proven to be of world class standard.
Even if Baines does stay on the blue side of Merseyside until the close of the January window, it seems unlikely that he will be in Everton colours come next season.
The club will therefore be on the lookout for either a direct replacement for Baines, or for an understudy to Oviedo if he proves himself to be consistently capable.
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