Manchester United have seen a £28 million double swoop for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines rejected by Everton, as reported by Greg O'Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo and later officially confirmed by the Toffees.
UPDATE: Monday, August 19, at 1 p.m. BST
Alan Myers, Everton's Director of Communications, told the club's official website:
Everton can confirm that it has received bids from Manchester United for two players. Those bids were immediately rejected out of hand as derisory and insulting.
The club did not make public these details as it was vital Roberto Martinez’s preparations for the opening game of the Premier League season were not disrupted in anyway.
---End of update---
United manager David Moyes is still looking to make his first major signing of the summer and has focused attention on his former club despite Saturday’s opening day 4-1 victory over Swansea.
O'Keeffe provides further details of the bid:
Everton FC have been left outraged after Manchester United made a farcical £16m bid for Marouane Fellaini – a fortnight after his £23.5m buy-out clause expired.
Goodison chiefs were rocked by the derisory offer for their Belgium international midfielder, and further incensed when Old Trafford officials also tried to include Leighton Baines in the package for a further £12m.
The combined offer was reportedly lodged by United chief executive Ed Woodward ahead of the champions’ trip to Swansea at the weekend, which ended in comfortable victory thanks to braces from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck.
United have been linked with the Everton pair all summer but it was anticipated that their pursuit of Fellaini had subsided after the £23.5 million clause in his contract expired on July 31.
However, Moyes risked angering both his former employers and supporters by attempting to lure two of Everton’s prized assets, offering money that barely represents their market value.
It was Moyes who paid up to £17.5 million to take Fellaini from Standard Liege in 2008. The fact he now deems it acceptable to offer £16 million for the Belgian would suggest he believes Fellaini’s value has dropped over the past five years.
United had every chance to snatch the towering midfielder away from Everton while his £23.5 million clause existed—something of which Moyes was extremely aware—raising question marks over how much further United will be willing to raise their price.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez had already served clear warning to United that any tactics to unsettle the player would not work, insisting his position had only been strengthened by the expiration of Fellaini’s transfer clause.
Quoted in the Guardian on Thursday, Martinez said:
If there is an offer on the table then we will have to look into it. When you are in a strong position financially you will never sell a player for less than the buyout clause.
Marouane had that clause in his contract, it was very clear for everyone, and on the 31st of July it expired. From that point on, the club has got complete control, in every single transfer, and that's the way it should be. We don't have bags of money but we don't have to sell any players.
The latest development is yet another frustrating chapter in United’s transfer dealings this summer, having already failed to land Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.
Moyes must now judge how far he can push his former club at the risk of tarnishing the impressive legacy he left at Everton, where he spent over a decade. Further attempts to unsettle Fellaini and Baines are unlikely to result in a successful deal being done unless United pay market value for both players, believed to be at least £25 million in the case of the Belgian.