'Great player' - Exclusive: Whelan raves as Ancelotti pushes Everton to seal new deal
Noel Whelan insists that Everton would be doing the right thing in handing veteran defender Leighton Baines a new contract deal at Goodison Park.
The former Leeds and Middlesbrough striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor, claims that keeping experienced talent on board is a must for the Toffees.
As reported by The Athletic, Carlo Ancelotti has been pushing to tie the 35-year-old to a new deal, with the left-back expected to pen a one-year extension to stay past the summer.
Whelan says that not only is the full-back an important character in the dressing room, he still has plenty to offer the Toffees out on the pitch.
Whelan told Football Insider: “You see the impact that Duncan Ferguson had when he took over – he’s been at the club, knows what it’s all about.
“Those sort of players in dressing rooms – your James Milners, Leighton Baines – they’ve been there. They know what the club’s all about, they’ve been around the place, they’re good role models for young players coming through.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
“Look, he’s still got a fantastic left foot on him, I mean come on. If you get a fit Leighton Baines, you’ve got a great player on your hands.
“They’re the sort of leaders you need in a squad. Everton need to hold onto those key players, even in the dressing room.”
Baines, who has a total of 417 appearances under his belt for the Toffees, has featured just six times across all competitions this season.
He has had to play second fiddle to Lucas Digne, the France international sitting out just three Premier League games this term.
In other Everton news, Paul Robinson has tipped one senior star to quit Goodison this summer.