sport

Baines 'can emulate Lahm'

Roberto Martinez has tipped Leighton Baines to develop into a holding midfielder after taking the Everton left-back to watch Philipp Lahm at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Lahm has played much of his career in defence but he has been increasingly deployed in a central midfield role by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.

Martinez believes Baines has the qualities to make a similar transition and decided he should study Lahm during Bayern's 1-1 draw against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League.

"I've always thought Leighton can develop into Philipp Lahm's role, it is in his make-up," said the Everton manager.

"Not this season but in seasons to come he is someone who can play in that central role. I wanted him to watch Philipp 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.

"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."

Martinez has had success in the past with taking players to matches and admits that Baines had no say in whether he would attend.

"He was told he was going to the game and that was it," said the Everton boss.

"I took the whole Swansea team to watch Barcelona a couple of times in 2007, one was against Celtic in the Champions League.

"It was very powerful in terms of understanding what we were trying to do. I'm not saying that was how we were going to play but, in terms of specific aspects of a game, when you see it live it is very powerful.

"It was the season we won the League One title. The specific aspect was how they kept possession. It helped the penny drop."