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Roberto Martínez believes Leighton Baines' next challenge at Everton is to emulate Philipp Lahm's successful transition, with Bayern Munich, from left-back to holding midfielder.Baines accompanied the Everton manager to Old Trafford on Tuesday under specific instruction to study the Bayern captain during the 1-1 draw against Manchester United in the Champions League. Martínez is convinced the England international's defensive experience, technical ability and intelligence suit his long-term vision for Everton's midfield, in the same way Pep Guardiola has deployed Lahm during his first season in charge of Bayern."I've always thought Leighton can develop into Philipp Lahm's role, it is in his make-up," the Everton manager said. "Not this season but in seasons to come he is someone who can play in that central role. I wanted him to watch Philipp Lahm in a live game because when it's on TV you only see the player when he's on the ball. It was good for Leighton to watch a player I feel he can be as good as or even better."Like Lahm, Leighton doesn't give the ball away, he's got a very low centre of gravity and technically he is as good as it gets. When you have that control of the ball and have been such a good defender, and as a left-back you have to be very good on one-v-one situations, it is very important to have that defensive mindset in those midfield areas. That is important for defensive balance. As a player Leighton has been through so many different experiences and has always found a way to rise to new challenges in his career. I am convinced he can step up to a new challenge. You need to look at the physicality and he is a naturally fit boy so can easily go into the role. He can be more expansive in central midfield than in his left back role. That's why I wanted him to see it first hand."Martínez admitted Baines had no say in his extracurricular activity on Tuesday – "He was told he was going to the game and that was it," he said – and has used the exercise before. "I took the whole Swansea team to watch Barcelona a couple of times in 2007, one was against Celtic in the Champions League," he added. "It was very powerful in terms of understanding what we were trying to do. I'm not saying that was how we were going to play but, in terms of specific aspects of a game, when you see it live it is very powerful. It was the season we won the League One title. The specific aspect was how they kept possession. It helped the penny drop."Martínez, meanwhile, has insisted Phil Jagielka will be fit for the World Cup despite the captain's comeback from a hamstring injury being delayed once again. Everton's captain has not played since 22 February and will miss Sunday's Premier League visit of Arsenal after the club's medical department ruled out a return.Martínez said: "It is not a straightforward hamstring problem. It is in between two muscles. He is medically fit but when you have played over 30 games you have to be very careful of a recurrence in that injury. The gamble of Phil playing and getting injured now is huge. It would be stupid for me to take that gamble. It could be that in two or three days we do a scan and everything is healed and he can rejoin the group, but we need to take the approach that he has to be 100%."
If you think about it, he has all the attributes to become a midfielder.I think Oviedo is going to really push him for his place next year, so this could happen. Would also allow garbutt to get some more game time as he seems to rate him highly.
This, and Baines is far too good a player to just let him fade.
Why not?His days of running past defenders are numbered, but as Martinez said: he's a smart player, a good defender, assured on the ball, he can both thread passes through or go long. If he really wants it and is coached in the right way (and why shouldn't he), he's got every chance.
Great post, but I think Baines has another two years of running past defenders myself.
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