There is zero chance Ross Barkley or Leighton Baines will be sold in January, manager Roberto Martinez has said.
Following his explosive start to the season, the 20-year-old Barkley has flown onto the radar of many a top club, with Sky Sports reporting that Manchester United has been linked to a £50M move for the England international.
Asked about his confidence in keeping Barkley, Martinez noted that a Gareth Bale-style world record bid would not be enough to force the club’s hand.
When questioned about his confidence in refuting approaches for Barkley and Leighton Baines – who United made a £15M bid for last summer – Martinez struck an adamant tone.
“Yes. Absolutely. There is not even a doubt. I have said it many times that in football you can’t fight the trend of the game but what you can dictate is the timing and everything you do should be for the good of the club.”
The good of the club, right now, is to protect its best players in hope of qualifying for the Champions League. Given the fierce competition of the Premier League it’s a lofty goal but one that their current fourth place status suggests is feasible.
Martinez has discussed ad nauseam that his January plan is to avoid selling key pieces and instead to strengthen the squad.
“Everything that happens needs to be to improve the squad, to give long-term to the strategy of the blend of youth and experience in the squad, and that’s based on football decisions. I can guarantee that’s going to be the case in January, 100 per cent.”
One of the key components to Everton’s success has been the blend of youth and senior players that Martinez has brought into the squad. It’s a formula that he won’t risk changing, even if it means rejecting massive bids.
“We have done it (resist bids) before. Everything that happens needs to be to improve the squad, to give it a longer-term in relation to the strategy of the youth of the players and the blend you have with experience.”
Everton are believed to want a striker to take the pressure off Romelu Lukaku, with 20-year-old Standard Liege striker Michy Batshuayi (valued at £8M) leading the chase. Everton purchased striker Arouna Kone last summer but the Ivorian is out for most of the season with a knee injury while backup Nikica Jelavic desires to leave the club to raise his hopes of making the Croatia World Cup team. West Ham, Crystal Palace and Hull are all reportedly interested in the former Rangers man.