Everton have secured the futures of Gareth Barry, Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate by handing the trio new contracts.
The Blues had been looking to tie Baines down to an extension, with his previous deal coming to an end within 12 months time. The extension for Holgate ensures Everton’s commitment to retaining their top young talents.
Speaking to EvertonFC.com, manager Ronald Koeman spoke highly of his players signing new contracts. For Barry and Baines, Koeman said Everton need them as they are “leaders in our dressing room and on the pitch”, while Holgate is “one of the big talents at the club.”
Baines had been in discussions over a new contract with the club since the summer and has extended his contract until June of 2019.
Keeping Baines at Goodison Park was a key goal for Koeman, who said Baines’ “attitude is always perfect” and he “likes to work hard, he likes to learn.”
Baines himself said it’s been a “huge honour” to play for Everton as long as he has and said he is “very proud to have been here” for this period of time.
Baines added that it’s been “an achievement in itself” to go from being a kid playing on the street to becoming a professional and playing “not just for any club, for a club like this. It's very special."
Gareth Barry’s extension, until June 2018, is likely to see him break the Premier League appearance record held by Ryan Giggs. Approaching 36 years of age, Barry has been a prime candidate to leave Goodison Park and head to the MLS but that now looks unlikely.
Since arriving from Manchester City, Barry has been a key part of the Everton squad and is enjoying a new lease on life under Ronald Koeman. The former England international said he feels “as comfortable on the pitch as I have ever done” and wants to be a part of a “successful team” at Goodison Park.
Koeman said Barry is a “clever player on the pitch” and that “he’s a quiet person but a strong character” who knows “what he can and can’t do.”
The Dutch boss added “He is a key player for the team” and Koeman is “very happy he has extended his contract.”
Mason Holgate’s five-year extension ties him down to the club until June 2021.
The 20-year-old said this season has been a “whirlwind” but he feels “settled now and a proper part of the group.”
The former Barnsley youngster added that the manager, Ronald Koeman, has been “really good” to him, giving him a chance in the first team and he just wants to “learn and grow as a player”, while continuing to “do all I can for the club.”
Koeman said the young defender has done “a great job” when he’s been called into action this season, even when he’s asked to play out of position. The Blues boss added that Holgate is “the future for the club” alongside other young players.