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 By Mike Whalley

Everton hopeful of Baines extension

Everton are closing in on a deal to secure Leighton Baines’ long-term future as they bid to fend off interest from Manchester United.

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The England left-back, 29, is increasingly likely to sign a lengthy extension to his current contract, which is set to expire in June 2015.

Everton -- who are also keen to extend midfielder Ross Barkley’s contract beyond 2016 -- have been in talks with Baines for several months, and are optimistic they can agree a deal, sources have told ESPN.

The club rejected a number of bids for the defender during the summer from United, which all came after manager David Moyes ended his 11-year stay at Goodison Park to take charge at Old Trafford.

Moyes did sign midfielder Marouane Fellaini from Everton for 27 million pounds on transfer deadline day in early September, but Baines remained at the club when the window shut.

Soon afterwards, manager Roberto Martinez said that the club would look to secure an improved contract for the full-back, who joined Everton from Wigan in a deal worth six million pounds in 2007.

Martinez said in September: “Leighton is a massively important player for us and for the future. We want to do anything we can to reward him.

“He deserves that we show our appreciation, what we feel about him. It’s all positive. He’s been an outstanding performer for Everton over the years.

“Now, he’s clearly at the peak of his career, and we’re going to make sure he feels that warmth from everyone at the football club. From a contract point of view, we need to do exactly the same. It’s vital for the plans we’ve got. So we’re going to make sure we show him that.”


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