The Guardian is reporting that Everton will reject any formal bid from Manchester United for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.
The position has been made in response to reports that United’s manager, David Moyes, is weighing up a joint offer in the range $46.7 million (£30m) for the pair.
Moyes already had a $18.7 million (£12m) bid for Baines turned down by the Toffees this past June but appears intent on pushing forward with acquiring the 28 year old to compete with Patrice Evra for starting spot at left-back. Moyes has yet to launch a bid for Fellaini, whose $35.8 million (£23m) release clause expired on July 31st.
Question marks surround both targets.
As to Baines, the England international would appear to be surplus goods in the midst of Evra, not to mention his 24 year old protégé, Alexander Büttner.
As to Fellaini, some feel the hulking Belgian would not satisfy United’s need for a creative, playmaking midfielder to compliment Michael Carrick. There is no doubt that Fellaini can drive a team to victory but his game is quite different from United’s previous targets, Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.
Being a club with thin financial reserves, Everton looks a plump target for any minted teams looking to buy players. But the Toffees fighting stance against selling either of their top assets suggests that sometimes things aren’t how they appear.
One interpretation of Everton’s stance is that the club is preparing themselves to embark on yet another long-shot run at qualifying for Europe. It’s a position that has their fans rubbing their bellies.
A somewhat less ambitious explanation is that the Toffees are appalled by Moyes’ gall at having submitted a $18.7 million (£12m) bid for Baines after the Scot himself rejected United’s $28 million (£18m) approach for the player just last summer.
At the very least, Everton’s stand makes one thing clear – it’s going to cost a pretty penny if Moyes is to pry Fellaini and/or Baines away from Goodison Park.