Leighton Baines has vowed to keep setting his standards high – and help push Lucas Digne to even greater heights after the Frenchman’s impressive debut season with Everton.
Baines signed a new one-year deal with the Blues last week to commit to a 13th season at the Club and his 17th in professional football.
With such vast experience under his belt and continued determination to keep himself in peak condition, the left-back acknowledged his role to set “the right example” to his teammates.
And the 34-year-old also hopes his bid to rival Digne for a place in Marco Silva’s first team can boost the France international’s progress following his arrival from Barcelona last summer.
“I just come in and do my work every day,” Baines told evertontv. “It is your own personal pride so you do not want to slack off.
“You are not going to succeed by accident. I will do that work to try to push Lucas.
“He has plenty of experience. He has been at massive clubs, he plays regular football and plays for his country.
“He doesn’t need me. But if he does, I will be here.”
Baines added: “You try to bring consistency in terms of your work every day when you walk through the door.
“You get to a stage in your career – particularly if you are not playing – when you have a bit more to give on that side of things.
“I try to come in conscious of what different people need and the support. Then outside that, you have to do your work and train well – go in the gym and do all the right things to give yourself a chance.
“You know if any of the younger players – without you even knowing – are looking to you, you are setting the right example.”
In his maiden Everton campaign, Digne was named 2018-19 Player of the Season and joint Player’ Player of the Season along with Idrissa Gana Gueye.
The former PSG and Roma left-back’s form meant Baines was limited to eight appearances last season. But the duo have struck up a close relationship during their time together with the Blues and the former England international is eager to see Digne continue to blossom.
“I enjoy watching him,” added Baines. “He is great to watch; full of energy and good quality.
“I think Lucas he will go on and do even better. I look forward to seeing that progress.”`