He was only being honest, what young Premier League regular wouldn’t harbour hopes of an international call up. With Ashley Cole banned there’s an opening at left back, and Baines’ form over the last two years warrants a look. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. So how do we get from he wants to/should be picked for the England squad to Newcastle wanting to sign him and a move to a big club would boost his international prospects? Oh, for the mind of a tabloid journalist.
Of course the pessimists amongst us are all waiting for the day when Leighton packs up his bags and follows his mate Bullard to “bigger” and “better” things. Then again, unlike Bullard and Roberts, he doesn’t really have to worry about Paul Jewell looking for a better left back to replace him and when the time comes it is more likely to be a Liverpool or Arsenal that come knocking.
Basically, where I am coming from is that Newcastle may indeed be interested in signing Baines, but has anyone bothered asking the player if he wants to go anywhere?
Let’s face it, and I mean no disrespect, exactly how much will moving to Newcastle improve the lad’s international chances? The Geordies are hardly renowned for bringing on defenders and St. James’ Park has become a bit of a Bermuda triangle for them over the years. That aside Baines made a big deal in the summer about playing for Paul Jewell and he signed his new contract on the basis that he wanted to carry on working for him.
That new contract is another thing; (most) players these days aren’t stupid. Baines had a year to run on his previous deal, and would have been just old enough to move on a Bosman at the end of it. He had already started to make a name for himself and although a couple of long range blasts may have brought more attention on the young scouser, he was being linked with full honours last season.
How realistic are his international chances anyway? Baines has had the misfortune to be born within a couple of years of an excellent full back. By the end of this season I would expect that he’ll have established himself as the best of the rest, but can he realistically expect to become the best? Barring an unfortunate (mobile phone related?) accident, Baines may never get a serious run in the England team, no matter who he’s playing for.
I suppose that the prospect of international football may be enough to tempt some players, but Newcastle have been a bit hit and miss in that department recently and who’s to say that Latics won’t be playing in Europe in the next couple of seasons?
At the end of the day, we have a good young player who has shown loyalty to both his club and manager. His manager has returned that and early indications are that he could be next in line for the armband when De Zeeuw calls it a day. He’s drawn enough attention to himself where he is and although St James may be more of a fishbowl, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The day may come when Baines gets frustrated with a lack of International honours, but I doubt that day will come in January and when it does come, I doubt that a trip to the North East will be high on his list.
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