Marco Silva hailed the professionalism of Everton captain Phil Jagielka amid speculation the veteran centre-half could leave the club in the summer.
Jagielka’s contract is up at the end of a season in which he has played only seven times so far, with his involvement limited by injury and the successful pairing of Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma at the heart of defence.
He was brought on for a very brief cameo in the 2-0 win over Burnley on Friday night, replacing Gylfi Sigurdsson in injury-time to a rapturous reception at Goodison Park, in what some interpreted as a valedictory appearance.
Jagielka’s future is set to be determined in the coming days though Silva revealed his admiration for the former England defender, who joined the club in July 2007, following a difficult campaign.
Silva said: “One different season to him, he didn’t play like he played for the last 11 years.
“But his behaviour as a captain was really good, he understood a little bit his different role this season, the competition was really tough. The others did a fantastic season.
“He understood and helped always his team-mates, his behaviour during the week is really good.
“When his team needs him, he was there and he was everything what you expect from a fantastic professional and a good captain.”
Jagielka himself would like to extend his stay on Merseyside into a 13th season but when asked whether his latest appearance served as a farewell, he told Sky Sports: “The answer to that will probably come in the next 10 days.
“I hope not, but obviously there is a possibility it could be.”
Everton made a barnstorming start in their final home fixture of the season against Burnley and were rewarded with two goals in the space of three first-half minutes which ultimately proved decisive.
Richarlison’s left-foot strike from the edge of the area took a telling final glance of Ben Mee while Seamus Coleman stooped to head in on the rebound after Tom Heaton could only parry Lucas Digne’s fizzing strike.
It was an eighth clean sheet in 10 games for Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who said in quotes on the club’s official website: “It just shows the hard work we put in as a group of lads.
“Our mentality going on to the pitch is to keep a clean sheet. From Dominic (Calvert-Lewin) up top – he has been playing really well – it starts with him pressing high which gets the crowd going and then we’ve got to do our job at the back.”
Burnley defender Mee rued his misfortune for Everton’s opener but admitted the Clarets were punished for starting slowly.
He said on the club website: “It was disappointing, but you have to try and get in the way of shots.
“Maybe it was a bit of a leg dangled, but you have to try and get in the way. I try and get in the way of everything I can and unfortunately it took it back into the goal.
“The first 20 minutes cost us. We didn’t get going at all and they started strong. We always do things right as a team and as a club and we were just a bit off it early in the game.”