Everton 'icon' Baines is the best left-back in England, says Martinez

As the former Wigan chief settles into life at Goodison Park he praised the club's Player of the Year and indicated that Manchester United will face a struggle to prise him away
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.”