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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

@Everton

Everton v Newcastle

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Leighton Baines says he ‘couldn’t be happier’ after signing a new long-term contract with Everton.

It was announced first thing on Monday morning that the left-back had pledged his future to the Club by agreeing to extend his stay at Goodison Park.

“I am delighted to have agreed the new deal,” Baines told evertonfc.com. “I am very happy at Everton and always have been. It’s a fantastic football club and I am excited about what we can achieve here in the next few years.

“I have a great relationship with the chairman and also the manager, the staff, the rest of the lads and, of course, the supporters.  

“I’ve loved every minute of being here since I first joined in 2007 and I couldn’t be happier. “

Baines’ future had been the subject of much speculation since last summer.

But the England man insists that he never once let the tabloid talk affect his performances for Everton.

“Was it a distraction? Not for me, no,” he continued. “I am a professional footballer and speculation is part and parcel of the industry we are in but it never affected me for a moment on the pitch.  

“Of course it was on my mind at times away from pitch because I was getting asked about it everywhere I went but I hope the supporters could see that I didn’t let it affect me at all once I crossed the white line.

“I’ve never been one to relish the limelight so I suppose I’m glad that the speculation will go away now.”

Everton are in the last-16 of the FA Cup and can move back up to fourth place in the Premier League table with victory over rivals Liverpool on Tuesday evening.

“There is a really confident buzz about the place just now and that’s being reflected in our performances,” Baines added.

"We’re well-placed in the Premier League, we’re in the fifth round of the FA Cup and although we’ve got a few injuries, we feel as though we are ready for every challenge.  

“The ambition is to bring some success to the club. That’s what all the lads want and that’s what we’re all working together for. The Everton fans deserve success and I am just happy to be in the privileged position of being able to try and provide some for them.”

Watch Baines face Aston Villa at Goodison Park this Saturday - click here and buy tickets online now.

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