Baines: I'd rather see stars stay at Goodison

Manchester United reportedly keen on defender joining the Everton exodus

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The Independent Online

Leighton Baines is aware of the speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United – but he does wish Everton could start keeping their best players.

Baines failed to make an appearance during England's Euro 2012 campaign, which is a shame because he would have been a handy presence during the penalty shoot-out against Italy last Sunday that ultimately cost Roy Hodgson's men their place in the competition. He then returned home to face stories suggesting Sir Alex Ferguson is about to make a move. The 27-year-old insists he knows little of United's interest. But, after his five years at Goodison Park, it has become a recurring theme for him to witness Everton's manager, David Moyes, having to sell his best players.

"Obviously, over the years the manager has lost players that I am sure he would have liked to have kept hold of," Baines said yesterday. "Whether the club has needed the money or whether it's because they have received what they consider is a considerable bid for a player, they have always done good business.

"The manager has done well in bringing people in at a certain amount and when they have moved on he has tended to double his money or more. The club have always been quite savvy in that sense. It has never really hindered us and it's never seen us getting any worse. But maybe it would be nice to see us hang on to those players and add a couple."

Baines now finds himself spoken about as of interest to a potential suitor. Recent history suggests United would not sign a player of such experience as cover for Patrice Evra, so for a deal to go through it would surely require either a fundamental change of role for the Frenchman or his departure from Old Trafford altogether.

"I've been aware of what's been said in the press but I don't know much beyond that," said Baines, who still has three years left on his present deal at Goodison Park. "It doesn't do any harm but it doesn't do any good either. It's just one of those things that tends to swing around this time of year. People put two and two together – sometimes they get four and sometimes they get three or five. It gets other people more excited than those involved."

In the meantime, Baines will take a short break and return to Everton eager to exert further pressure on Ashley Cole for his England place.

There was no sign at the European Championship of Cole's ability diminishing. And, at two caps short of his century, it appears certain the 31-year-old will extend his England career into the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Baines is not worried, though. With eight caps to his name, he is happy to keep providing the competition.

"Ashley is different class," Baines said. "There are not many better than him and, hopefully, he can keep on playing as well as he has been because that can only be good for England.

"I will keep trying to push him and doing what I can do. Hopefully, if I get a chance I can do well enough to get in there."

Baines may have another rival for the left-back slot with England – Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand, who is expected to be named in Stuart Pearce's Olympic squad today.

Great Britain coach Pearce will today explain the reasoning behind his decision to end David Beckham's international career.

It had been widely anticipated that Beckham was going to be one of three over-age players in the 18-man London 2012 Olympics squad Pearce will unveil at Wembley. Instead, he rang the former England captain on Wednesday night to inform him that he had not made the cut.

It has been suggested that, with Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling ruled out through injury, Pearce felt he had to include Manchester City's Micah Richards. And it seems Pearce had already decided that the Wales duo Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy would be part of his plans. But the decision not to include Beckham has created a huge amount of debate.

Some feel Beckham should have been selected as a reward for the pivotal role he played in securing the Games for London in the first place. In addition, his presence would help to shift the estimated million tickets still available for the football tournament. Others think such a move would completely devalue Britain's first appearance as an Olympic football team since 1960.

Pearce, who appeared likely at one point to combine his Olympic duties with those of England coach at Euro 2012, clearly belongs to the latter camp.

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