Carlo Ancelotti has been at Everton for six months now but he appeared to have never heard of one player on the club’s books for 11 years, Luke Garbutt.
Garbutt was released by the club this week, and in fairness to Ancelotti the 27-year-old had spent almost his entire Everton career out on loan. Garbutt had not made a senior Everton appearance in five years and completed his most recent loan spell at Ipswich Town.
Asked during a virtual press conference why Garbutt had been allowed to leave, Ancelotti looked perplexed, replying: “Who?” The manager asked his press officer for an explanation, before adding: “Sorry but I am surprised by this question. I don’t know.”
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Garbutt saw the funny side, tweeting a series of laughing emojis and writing: “Don’t get it twisted I chose to find the funny side other players would feel disrespected by the club and the manager.”
Garbutt added: “It’s not his fault its the clubs however it’s a belter tho.”
Earlier Garbutt had tweeted: “Today officially my contract at Everton has now expired after been at the club for 11 years! The club has been a huge part of my life, and one I had huge pride to represent. There’s been many ups and a few downs which I couldn’t control. Everton good luck for the future.”
Ancelotti gave more certainty on Leighton Baines’s future, and feels there is still enough time to agree a new contract with the veteran left-back for next season.
Former England international Baines has signed a short-term extension at Goodison Park to take him up to the end of the overrunning current campaign, but he is due to become a free agent this summer. The Toffees have offered the 35-year-old a new one-year deal but the long-serving player is yet to commit.
Ancelotti said: “Leighton Baines extended his contract until the end of the season, for one month more. After that I think we have time to make a decision and wait for an answer.”
Ancelotti believes Baines, who has made 418 appearances for Everton since moving from Wigan in 2007, has a lot to offer, particularly for the youngsters in the squad.
He said: “I hope (he will sign). Leighton is an important part of this squad and, above all, of this club. For a lot of the young players that come to play for Everton he will be good. He knows this. We have a lot of respect for him as a player, as a professional and as a man.”
After drawing with champions Liverpool and beating struggling Norwich since competition resumed, 12th-placed Everton are only four points off seventh position and in contention for Europe.
Ancelotti said: “It could be a great achievement to reach the Europa League for next year. It will be a big fight until the end of the season but we want to stay there until the last minute of the last game to fight for the Europa League.”
Everton will hope to take advantage of Leicester’s recent downturn in form when they meet on Wednesday. The Foxes remain third in the table but have been held to frustrating draws by Brighton and Watford since the restart and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea on Sunday.
Ancelotti said: “It will be a difficult match against a strong team. They are really fast in front, (Jamie) Vardy is a really dangerous player and they have a really good organisation. But our moment is not bad, it is good. What I have seen this week in training gives me confidence to play a good game.
“Also it can be a small advantage that Leicester played on Sunday in a difficult game against Chelsea. We are fresh and can play a game with a lot of intensity.”
Additional reporting by Press Association