Everton defender Leighton Baines believes his decision to turn down the advances of Manchester United last summer has been vindicated because of the progress being made at Goodison Park under the tutelage of Roberto Martinez.
Goal.com reports how the England international was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford last summer, but Baines decided against following David Moyes to the club, instead signing a new deal with the Toffees.
It later transpired that the Red Devils endured their worst ever Premier League campaign in 2013/14, resulting in Moyes's sacking just ten months into his tenure, and a seventh place finish for the defending champions.
Everton on the up
Everton by comparison finished in fifth spot and with it qualified for the Europa League, whilst Martinez installed an exciting brand of attack-minded football, as well as bringing through a number of emerging young stars.
Players like Ross Barkley and John Stones have already been linked with moves away from Merseyside, but the Spanish coach has successfully secured their long-term futures by getting them to sign new contracts.
The club-record capture of Romelu Lukaku is another signal of Everton's intentions, whilst the continue improvement of the likes of Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy is reason enough for Baines to believe that he made the right choice to spurn Manchester United.
"What the club has done lately is retain its best players," the 29-year-old told the Liverpool Echo. "Everyone here who has been linked with someone has stayed and committed to the club.
"The younger lads; Ross [Barkley], [John] Stonesy, Seamus [Coleman] have all been linked with clubs and they've all got their best football ahead of them, but they're all happy to do it here. That's as big as anything for me."
In the aftermath of Moyes's acrimonious departure in April, Manchester United moved to bring in the experienced Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal revolution
The Dutch coach only arrived in England a few weeks ago after successfully guiding his home nation to a third place finish at the World Cup in Brazil, but has already set about a significant rebuilding project with the Premier League giants.
But, despite the renewed sense of optimism around Old Trafford, Baines is still certain he made the right choice in rejecting the Red Devils' advances almost 12 months ago and going on to sign a new deal with Everton.
"The manager was telling me that's what he wanted to do when I signed my contract," he explained.
"I signed following that summer of the whole United thing, but that was in their minds back then in terms of how to change the status and perception so we can keep hold of players when other clubs come calling.
"Since that with me, a few of the other lads have been talked about as going by the media but in all fairness none of them have been the slightest bit interested in playing anywhere else.
"You hear that from them. They are enjoying it here and they want to achieve what they can here."
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