Some Everton fans have been discussing on social media if Leighton Baines could be used as a defensive midfielder, having struggled to break into the side so far this season.
Baines has been one of our most rarely-seen first-team players this term, having not featured for a single minute in either the Premier League or Carabao Cup, and only named amongst the substitutes by Marco Silva on three occasions overall thus far.
Even when Silva made a raft of changes to face Lincoln City and slight modifications when playing Sheffield Wednesday and Watford in the EFL competition, the Portuguese favoured Lucas Digne at left-back rather than offering the Frenchman a well-earned rest.
Baines rarely featured under Silva during the former Watford and Hull boss’ maiden term at Goodison Park last season, either, with the £65,000-per-week full-back awarded just seven starts across all competitions amid a combined eight appearances for 556 minutes of action.
Former Everton manager Roberto Martinez had considered utilising Baines as a holding midfielder during his time in charge, when the Spaniard suggested the Kirby-born defender could follow in the footsteps of Bayern Munich icon Phillip Lahm.
Could Baines play in defensive midfield?
Yes, absolutely, worth a shot
Only if we suffer more injuries
No, he isn't good enough now
Martinez even made Baines study the German great during a Champions League Quarter-Final between Bayern and Manchester United, but over his entire career, the 34-year-old has only ever started a game in midfield on 17 occasions – each time on the left-wing.
Should Baines now reinvent himself in the likely closing stages of his career, with his contract up next summer, he would be competing for minutes with Morgan Schneiderlin, Fabian Delph and Tom Davies, with Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin out for the foreseeable future.
Here are some of the messages shared…
Sad to say it but he’s finished and it’s purely Everton’s fault. I hope we see him play once or twice before the end of the season.
— Jake Ablett (@jablett1) November 28, 2019
Confident he’d do a better that job that Sneiderlin
— #KJEFC (@khrjacko) November 28, 2019
Can’t possibly be worse than Morgan the Sniderline
— Ommadon (@beusefulll) November 28, 2019
I think this lad could quite easily play there
— leeG1878 (@bluetsunami1878) November 29, 2019
didn’t roberto want this ? i remember him taking baines to a bayern match to watch lahm.
— topher lambert (@lambandbert) November 28, 2019
He’s more likely to break into the team there than at LB, so I hope he’s training at DM. If one more midfielder gets injured, would it be crazy to think he might do better in a pinch than Beni?
— Ankur Mandhania (@amandhania) November 28, 2019
It was just a Martinez pipe dream, like Besic left midfield and Jagielka and Stones being Pique and Puyol.
— J (@G892J) November 28, 2019
Always thought he was perfectly capable, just do a similar job to Lahm, Martinez spoke about trying him there but never materialised, but yer he hasn’t got the legs any more sadly
— Kane Vasco-Snow (@KaneVasco) November 28, 2019
Give Beningemi a run. Soz for the spelling
— Pete1878 (@pete1878) November 28, 2019
It was Martinez who floated the idea. He though he had the skills/pace/reading to do it. Never had someone to cover at LB so in his pomp never had a run of games. If we had 6 years ago Baines and Digne it would be worth a try.
— Richard (@lazyrichie) November 28, 2019