Martinez believes Baines can emulate Lahm

, 5 April, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
Roberto Martinez has ambitious plans for Leighton Baines, believing that the England international has what it takes to eventually convert to a Philipp Lahm-style role as a central midfielder.

The manager took Baines to Old Trafford last Tuesday to watch the veteran Bayern Munich and Germany player take on Manchester United in the Champions League to allow his left back to study Lahm in the role in which he has been deployed by Pep Guardiola.

Martinez sees in Baines the same qualities that make Lahm so versatile and paved the way for him to migrate from his natural role as a fullback to a midfield holding role.

"I've always thought Leighton can develop into Philipp Lahm's role, it is in his make-up," Martinez said. "Not this season but in seasons to come he is someone who can play in that central role.

"I wanted him to watch Lahm in a live game because when it's on TV you only see the player when he's on the ball. It was good for Leighton to watch a player I feel he can be as good as or even better.

Many Evertonians have viewed Baines's attacking talents as being his strong suit and he has been put forward by some as a potential solution to England's lack of options in left midfield.

Martinez, though, clearly sees more merit in the defensive aspects of his game.

"Like Lahm, Leighton doesn't give the ball away, he's got a very low centre of gravity and technically he is as good as it gets. When you have that control of the ball and have been such a good defender, and as a left-back you have to be very good on one-v-one situations, it is very important to have that defensive mindset in those midfield areas. That is important for defensive balance.

"As a player, Leighton has been through so many different experiences and has always found a way to rise to new challenges in his career. I am convinced he can step up to a new challenge. You need to look at the physicality and he is a naturally fit boy so can easily go into the role. He can be more expansive in central midfield than in his left back role. That's why I wanted him to see it first hand."

Quotes sourced from The Guardian

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