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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Apr 5, 2014

Martinez eyes Baines midfield role

The FC crew breaks down Everton and Arsenal's match-up, which could decide who finishes in 4th place.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has set his sights on turning the left-back Leighton Baines into a midfielder.

50-50 Challenge: Everton vs. Arsenal
 O'Farrell: Faith in youth highlights the Martinez effect

Martinez took Baines to Old Trafford on Tuesday to watch the Champions League quarterfinal first leg between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, in particular Philipp Lahm.

Lahm is considered one of the finest full-backs of the modern era before being converted to a deep-lying midfielder by Pep Guardiola -- who recently claimed the Germany captain is "the most intelligent player" he has worked with.

And Martinez sees a similar switch for Baines.

"He has risen to so many challenges," Martinez said in a number of British newspapers. "He goes away with England and becomes exceptional. I'm convinced he can step up to a new challenge.

"He can be more expansive in central midfield than in his left back role. That's why I wanted him to see [Lahm] first-hand.

"It was a very good experience. When you are a player, you are watching the game in a different manner so it was good for Leighton to watch a player I feel he can be as good as or even better. That was the reason behind taking him.

"Leighton doesn't give the ball away. He's got a very low centre of gravity and technically he's as good as it gets. It's a role I know Leighton can fulfil.

"I'm not saying he is ready for it now, I want him to concentrate on being a left back, but overall I think it's important for him to have it in his mind."

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