Leighton Baines has revealed his delight after signing a new contract with Everton.
The full-back penned a four-year deal with the Premier League club on Monday, providing a timely boost ahead of the midweek Merseyside derby against Liverpool.
And Baines, who joined from Wigan Athletic in 2007, was overjoyed to have committed his future to the club.
"I am delighted to have agreed the new deal," Baines told evertonfc.com. "I am very happy at Everton and always have been. It's a fantastic football club and I am excited about what we can achieve here in the next few years.
"I have a great relationship with the chairman and also the manager, the staff, the rest of the lads and, of course, the supporters.
"I've loved every minute of being here since I first joined in 2007 and I couldn't be happier."
The England international was linked with a transfer to Manchester United in pre-season, a move that would have seen him link up with former Everton manager David Moyes.
But he insists that speculation never played on his mind.
"Was it a distraction? Not for me, no," the 29-year-old added. "I am a professional footballer and speculation is part and parcel of the industry we are in but it never affected me for a moment on the pitch.
"Of course it was on my mind at times away from pitch because I was getting asked about it everywhere I went but I hope the supporters could see that I didn't let it affect me at all once I crossed the white line.
"I've never been one to relish the limelight so I suppose I'm glad that the speculation will go away now."
Tuesday's trip to Anfield will offer Everton the chance to climb into the top four with a win and, having secured their place in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday, Baines is enjoying the season so far.
"There is a really confident buzz about the place just now and that's being reflected in our performances," he said.
"We're well-placed in the Premier League, we're in the fifth round of the FA Cup and although we've got a few injuries, we feel as though we are ready for every challenge.
"The ambition is to bring some success to the club. That's what all the lads want and that's what we're all working together for.
"The Everton fans deserve success and I am just happy to be in the privileged position of being able to try and provide some for them."
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