Carlo Ancelotti wants Leighton Baines to extend his Everton career into a 14th season after the left-back’s accomplished displays deputising for Lucas Digne in the past fortnight.
Baines, who signed a one-year deal last summer to keep him at Goodison Park until the end of the current campaign, made his 417th appearance for the Club in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, seven days after playing under Ancelotti for only the second time in Everton’s game at Arsenal.
The 35-year-old belied his relative lack of action this term with a pair of characteristically impeccable and tireless contributions.
Baines has started four times in all this season – including manager Ancelotti’s second match at the helm when Everton won 2-1 at Newcastle United back in December.
He was summoned to face Arsenal following a calf injury to France international full-back Digne, who is fit for selection for Everton's Premier League visit to Chelsea this weekend.
The classy Baines came to Goodison from Wigan Athletic in summer 2007 and is 13th in the list of Everton all-time appearance makers.
“Our idea, the idea of the Club, is, ‘Don’t stop playing, stay with us for the next year’,” Ancelotti revealed to evertonfc.com.
“We would like to keep him and are going to talk with him.
“It would be good for us if he can stay.
“Physically, he has no problem.
“It [Baines remaining beyond this season] depends on what he is thinking and whether he wants to continue.
“I think he wants to continue but it is his decision.”
Baines captained Everton at Arsenal eight weeks after his previous appearance against Newcastle.
He was more than a match for the Gunners’ express 24-year-old forward Nicolas Pepe and roamed forward with all his familiar guile and energy.
Baines turned in a dynamic performance in the weekend meeting with United, providing three key passes and completing two clearances, two tackles and two interceptions.
His 66 touches was the highest number of any Everton player.
Ancelotti was in charge of AC Milan when consummate defensive duo Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini played beyond their 40th birthdays.
The Italian cited his compatriots’ physical conditioning as key to their respective longevity.
And he sees the same attribute in Baines, who has been capped 30 times by England and scored 39 goals for Everton.
Baines will top Everton’s list of Premier League appearance makers with a further 10 outings.
He is seven behind Leon Osman’s tally of 352 and two more adrift of the total amassed by goalkeeper Tim Howard.
“He has experience and even if he does not play frequently he is able to come in and manage the game,” said Ancelotti.
“He is strong physically and a really intelligent player.
“He played well in both games [against Arsenal and United] and helped the team.
“Maldini only stopped playing because eventually he had physical problems, he could have played more [in terms of ability].”
Ancelotti added with a smile: “Maldini won a Champions League when he was nearly 40 – so Leighton has time to win the Champions League.”
Ancelotti confirmed Digne and countryman Djibril Sidibe – who sustained a knock after coming on for the injured Seamus Coleman against United – will both be available for Everton’s game at Chelsea on Sunday.
“Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibe are both fit,” said Ancelotti.
“Sidibe trained today [Thursday] without any problems.
“Only Coleman, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jean-Philippe Gbamin are out.”