Was 3-3 thriller Leighton Baines’ last Merseyside derby?

Following a scintillating Merseyside derby, Vincent Ralph asks if it could be the last one the Everton left-back plays a part in.

A hypothetical question it may be, but in the immediate aftermath of an absolute classic at Goodison Park yesterday I have to ask:

With Leighton Baines continually linked with a move to Manchester United, could that have been the Everton left-back’s last experience of a Merseyside derby?

Toffees fans will certainly hope not, and this is in no way a piece designed to incite anything more than healthy debate. But with January fast approaching, some headlines – no matter how tired – are inevitable; and Baines to United is one of them.

They have already started, with David Moyes reportedly readying a £15million offer…or a £16million offer…or an offer that rather bizarrely involves Wilfried Zaha.

While other reports claim Everton are holding out for £20million and Moyes either will or will not pay it, depending on what you read and when you read it.

There is no doubt United want Baines; just as there is no doubt Everton wish to keep him. But having being soundly embarrassed in the last transfer window, expect Moyes to be a different kind of shopper this time round.

January may be a notoriously tricky time to buy quality, but there will be no waiting until the final moments of the final day this time. If Moyes wants someone after Christmas, I expect he already has the details ready to fax.

If yesterday does prove to be Baines’ last taste of that particular shade of blue versus red, it could have gone better. Not just because of the fact that Daniel Sturridge struck late to deny Everton all three points, but also because Baines was forced to leave the pitch early in the second-half with an injured toe.

His manager Roberto Martinez has since confirmed that he will have an x-ray to determine the extent of the injury. However before he left, Baines did manage to complete 95% of his passes and play one key pass for a teammate.

With Everton due to visit Anfield at the end of January, Baines may be one of 11 men attempting to get the better of their fierce rivals in the new year. Then again he could wait until the middle of March, because that is when United welcome Brendan Rodgers’ side to town.

image: © wonker

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