Baines - No Jags excuse
Leighton Baines does not believe Arsenal's pursuit of Phil Jagielka is any reason to make a slow start to the season.
Last Updated: 01/08/11 10:29am
Leighton Baines does not believe Arsenal's pursuit of Phil Jagielka is any reason for Everton to make a slow start to the season.
Arsene Wenger has already had a bid for the defender knocked back this summer but is said to be readying an improved £15million offer.
The hunt for the England international has similar traits to Manchester's City's chase for Joleon Lescott two years ago, which eventually ended in his £22million sale.
It led to a sluggish start to the campaign and Baines is insisting that whatever the club's transfer activity, the players should not allow themselves to be distracted.
"I thought it was a bit of an excuse that we used," Baines told the Daily Mirror. "Joleon wasn't a bad egg or anything like that.
"It was probably the clubs actually who dragged it out to get the best deal for themselves. But we used it as an excuse at the time - some of us.
"We've spoken about it (starting the season poorly) a lot, but we've just got to do it and stop talking about it. It has been an issue.
"But it's down to us to hit the nail on the head this time. We have to do something about it."
Baines and Jagielka have been seen their stock rise substantially over the last two seasons as they produced an impressive level of consistency.
And in the case of the Everton central defender, Baines is not surprised that he is being coveted by one of the Premier League's better teams.
He added: "It's not a surprise to me that a top club would want a player like Phil because he's fantastic.
"He's one of the top three or four defenders that the country's got. It's no surprise. But we'd like to hold on to him if we can."