With David Moyes’ appointment as the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, rumours linking some of the Scotsman’s former Everton charges with a move to Old Trafford were inevitable.
It’s no revelation that Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines would appear the most likely acquisitions for the Red Devils, should any transfers between the two clubs materialise.
However, latest reports from Jamie Jackson of The Guardian claim that Roberto Martinez will rebuff any approach made for his star duo.
Jackson alleges that the Toffees’ new boss, heading into his maiden season as Everton manager, would reject Moyes’ stewing offer of £30 million and that a bid of between £35m and £40m would be required.
That being said, if it were to come down to a choice between selling just one of his talismanic Blues, Martinez should prioritise holding onto Baines.
Although a few years older than his fellow Everton star, the former Wigan Athletic man has risen to become one of the Premier League’s most consistent talents in recent years.
Last season saw Baines create no less than 116 scoring opportunities for his side, according to Squawka statistics. To put that into context, those sort of numbers beat the likes of Gareth Bale, Santi Cazorla, David Silva, Steven Gerrard and any other number of the Premier League’s most valued playmakers.
In fact, one has to look as far down the 2012-13 season’s list as 26th to find the division’s next highest-ranked defender in terms of chance creation, Kyle Walker, who laid on just 49 key passes for his team.
In short, finding a left-back of Baines’ supreme worth is like finding gold dust. That’s not to say Fellaini’s particular set of skills are everyday or mundane, but coming across a top-class central midfielder, a player who can rely on a partner in their day-to-day, is that slight bit easier.
In recent years, club tradition has dictated that Everton be equally as stern when selling their own players as they are when it comes to purchasing others.
Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill are all contemporary examples of players who’ve drawn the limelight of bigger clubs in the last few seasons, and, while some eventually did move, the sales didn’t come easily.
As such, it would look improbable that both Baines and Fellaini are permitted to leave Merseyside this summer, meaning any cash payments will need to be as lucrative as possible.
It just so happens that it’s the Belgian international whose value looks more appealing for the Blues right now. The Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel has stated that a price tag of around £23 million is on Fellaini’s head, while BBC Sport reported that United had seen a fee of just £12 million rejected for Baines back in June.
If Everton are going to be making any money this summer, they evidently want it to be an amount that will benefit them most in the market, and the opportunity to make such a decent profit on a player they signed for £15 million could be too good to pass up.
What’s more, they might not receive such an offer again. Fellaini’s 2012-13 campaign was easily the standout of his career so far.
But what happens if it doesn’t happen again?
What happens if it was Moyes’ tutelage that led the 25-year-old to such magnificent results? What happens if he just doesn’t fit into Martinez’s system?
The answer: His value could plummet and the Toffees will be left kicking themselves that they didn’t cash in sooner.
On the other hand, Baines is a well-rounded veteran of the Premier League, perfectly suited to the English top flight and continuing to showcase his talents on the elite stage.
Given his age, the Belgian is currently in the prime of his playing days and whereas plumping £10 million on another box-to-box player could very well unearth another Fellaini, replacing Baines’ presence would prove far more difficult for the club.
In an ideal Martinez world, the Spaniard wouldn’t have to sell any of his stars, and the former Wigan man would be able to go about his new venture as he pleases.
However, it’s far from an ideal world, and it looks as if David Moyes has returned to his old stomping ground for all the wrong reasons.
The question now would appear to rest on just how tough Everton’s resolve is—who stays and who goes?