Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists Leighton Baines is not trying to force his way out of Goodison Park, following a report by Alan Nixon in the Daily Mirror claiming that Manchester United will up their bid for Baines and Marouane Fellaini to £38 million.
Sam Wallace of the Independent reported that Baines told Martinez of his desire to leave at the start of preseason, but the Everton boss denied the claim following Wednesday’s 2-1 League Cup win over Stevenage.
Richard Jolly of The Guardian quotes Martinez after the Spaniard was asked if Baines had requested a switch to United:
No. You are going to get so many stories. The two players have been true professionals and that is what I want, players that are dedicated to the club and dedicated to the team.
I am not going to entertain any rumours or speculation. We are concentrating on rumours too much. There is nothing to tell. If there is anything to tell, we will tell our fans straight away.
Baines was an unused substitute as Everton progressed after extra-time in the League Cup, thanks to Fellaini’s winner.
United, who initially lodged a “derisory” offer of £28 million for the pair, are expected to lift that figure to the £38 million marker, testing the resolve of Martinez, who is a known admirer of former Wigan colleague James McCarthy.
Jolly reports that Everton will seek to discover the breakdown of the £38 million fee, with £25 million set as the benchmark for the sale of Fellaini.
If the deal is done swiftly, it would allow Martinez to replace the Belgian with McCarthy, although the Wigan man is reportedly wanted by both Tottenham and Newcastle, according to Jolly.
A deal for Baines is less likely, given what he represents to the Everton public. Unlike Fellaini, Baines is a local boy who made good at Goodison Park, making it much more difficult for the club’s owners to justify his sale.
As a footballer, Baines is close to irreplaceable. A rarity that is a top-quality English left-back, he boasts one of the most dangerous crosses in the Premier League and raids forward like a winger.
That he scored seven goals last season testifies to his additional impact in attack as well as being solid in defence, and Martinez’s expansive passing style dictates that Everton keep players of Baines’ ilk in order to play the ball out from the back.