Roberto Martinez: We must keep Leighton Baines, for the future of Everton

Baines has been singled out as the club's top performing player and the one Martinez would least like to have to sell

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The Independent Football

Roberto Martinez has vowed that his first job as Everton manager will be to keep hold of left-back Leighton Baines by rewarding him for his "phenomenal" performances.

Baines has been singled out as the club's top performing player and the one Martinez would least like to have to sell.

The England international has been one of the Toffees' more consistent players over the past few seasons and chairman Bill Kenwright has already offered a new contract.

The 28-year-old still has two full years left on his current contract but, for the past few seasons, has been linked with Manchester United. Now that former Everton boss David Moyes has taken the reigns, Baines might find the Old Trafford offer more attractive.

Martinez knows it is vital to retain the services of the 28-year-old and believes underlining his importance with the offer of an improved contract is the way to do it.

The new Everton manager has made it clear that it is essential to the future of the club to hang on to its stars - with Baines being particularly important.

"It is very important and it's (about) rewarding players who have been phenomenal for the football club and I think Leighton is in that category," the Spaniard told PA.

"The chairman is very keen to express that and obviously I'm desperately looking forward to meeting the players.

"For Leighton, as the top performer he has been in the last few years, it is important that we reward his work and make sure that he can look forward to kicking on and go into the next chapter of his career with Everton.

"That's important for the club as a whole, not just the dressing room."

Martinez has also identified England centre back Phil Jagielka as a key man.

The centre-back was told by Moyes last season he would assume the captain's armband from the retiring Phil Neville, having done it on the occasions when the veteran midfielder was unavailable.

Moyes told Jagielka that he would be taking over the captain's armband from Phil Neville, who retired at the end of this season.

Everton's new manager sees no reason to change that decision as he believes Jagielka to be the very top of his game.

"I've been a big admirer of Phil and I do feel now he is at the peak of his career in terms of the leadership he has achieved when representing England and for a few seasons at Everton," he told evertontv.

"It is the right moment for him to take that role and for me it is very representative of the standards of the club on a daily basis.

"I know he is going to embrace that role and is going to be a perfect fit for a role which has traditionally been a great honour."