The rumours had long been established. Both Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini would be following former Everton manager David Moyes to Manchester United, allowing the new boss to have his top on-pitch lieutenants alongside him as he tried to prop up the Old Trafford empire.
Fellaini departed from Goodison Park on deadline day, but then something funny happened: Baines did not. And then, something even stranger: Midway through the season, Everton were the team challenging for Champions League places ahead of United. And that, apparently, has been enough to convinced Baines to stay:
BREAKING: Defender Leighton Baines has signed a new long-term contract #EFC— Everton (@Everton) January 27, 2014
This doesn't mean the end of Manchester United's pursuit of the left back, but the four-year deal gives a) Everton serious negotiating power should it ever come to it and b) a serious indication of Baines' commitment to the club. It's indisputably good news for the Toffees, who get to keep hold of one of their biggest stars for as long as they want him. As for United... there's always Luke Shaw.