Leighton Baines: Everton must invest
Leighton Baines says Everton must keep investing in new players if they are to keep pace with the Premier League's most successful teams.
Roberto Martinez has managed to maintain the club's consistent league form since replacing Manchester United-bound David Moyes last June.
With 10 games to go, the club lie sixth in the table, which is where they finished under Moyes last season.
Martinez is almost certain to secure an eighth consecutive top-eight finish for the Toffees, and he has every chance of guiding them in Europe after a four-year absence.
Sixth place would be enough for a place in next season's Europa League, a competition in which Everton last played in 2009-10.
But England left-back Baines, who arrived from Wigan in 2007 and agreed a new contract in January that commits him to staying at Goodison Park until 2018, believes Everton must strengthen the squad this summer.
Martinez has bolstered his playing staff this season with loan deals for Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Lacina Traore, in addition to the permanent signings of James McCarthy, Joel Robles and Aiden McGeady.
But every single one of those deals was arguably topped by the retention of Baines -- a target for Manchester United last summer.
And the 29-year-old hopes that his decision to commit his future to Everton will be followed by the signings of more top-class talent.
He told Sky Sports News: "I think the manager came in straight away with a lot of ambition and he talks about his hopes of taking the club that one step further from where they've been.
"We'd always been seen to have done well but never quite managed to achieve the things we wanted and he wants to take us to the next level, but in order to do that we have to change our style a bit.
"What we are doing now is slightly in transition but it's a system that if we keep improving and get better at we'll definitely climb up the table.
"I'm sure the manager will be looking to keep investing and keep improving the squad because every year that's what everyone else does and I think to give him a chance to improve us to that level then he's going to need money to invest.
"We're working on what we've got here and what we've got at the moment I think the big teams have a lot of money to spend and they spend it every year and they improve every year so we'll have to do the same."
Baines said that he had been pleased to sort out his future in the wake of interest from United, whose manager Moyes had brought him to Everton.
The left-back added: "I don't think that it was necessarily that in need of convincing, it was just time really and my contract was getting to the point where we needed to talk about it.
"Eventually we got around to doing that and got it agreed so obviously it was great to be able to draw a line under any uncertainty over my future and focus and move forward."