New Everton boss Roberto Martinez has hailed Leighton Baines as an "icon" for the Merseyside club and admits he is excited to manage a player of his calibre.
Martinez officially took up the Goodison Park reins on Monday but already faces a fight to keep Baines after predecessor and new Manchester United chief David Moyes was unsuccesful with a £12 million bid.
Moyes is expected to to return with an improved offer but Martinez hinted the 28-year-old, who he believes is the best left-back in England, will remain a key figure at the club.
“I think Leighton is more than a player, he is an icon,” Martinez told the Liverpool Echo.
“He represents a lot about our football club and I am really, really excited about Leighton.
“This is a big season for him and for us as a club. When you are the left-back of this football club, and the level that he has been reaching over the last few years consistently, it shows me that he is the best left-back in the country. I can’t wait to start working with him.”