Rarely-seen Everton ace Leighton Baines is set to walk away from Goodison Park next summer as a free agent, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Baines was awarded a one-year extension to his previous contract in June to ward off the threat of the 34-year-old leaving at the end of his £70,000-a-week deal (Spotrac), and remained the club’s second-choice left-back to Lucas Digne by putting pen to paper on revised terms.
However, he is now one of a number of first-team players out of contract in the summer of 2020, with the transfer-listed trio of Kevin Mirallas, Cuco Martina, and Oumar Niasse, along with Maarten Stekelenburg, all in the final twelve months of their respective deals.
The Everton board are said to be considering potential further extensions for Baines and Stekelenburg in order to maintain depth in the senior fold in two otherwise sparse positions, but both are mulling over terminating their spells on Merseyside next year.
Baines is now in his 12th season as an Everton player having left boyhood side Wigan Athletic for Goodison Park in the summer of 2007, but is yet to make an appearance this term having been overlooked for the Toffees’ trip to Aston Villa. Indeed, teammate Digne outperformed him in pretty much every defensive metric last season (per WhoScored) so it’s not exactly hard to see why he’s out of the team.
He made just five league starts last season and 22 the year before that, a sharp decline from the 32 he made in 2016/17, making any appearance in the club’s side a rare one these days.
Kirkby-born veteran Baines was in contention to face Dean Smith’s 2018/19 Championship Play-Off winners after Digne sustained an apparent hamstring injury midway through the second half of the Blues’ victory over Watford, but he managed to recover in time to face the Birmingham-based outfit.
Baines was making his own return from injury to be in contention, with his last outing for Everton coming at the start of February when he was forced off after 37 minutes in his side’s dreadful defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers (TransferMarkt).
A decision by Everton over whether to offer contract extensions is expected to be made by January but, given his lack of impact when he does play, the club should look to part ways.
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