Roberto Martinez has poured scorn on reports that Leighton Baines will join Manchester United in January, addressing the topic in Friday’s press conference.
The Everton boss was quizzed over multiple reports, such as Sunday's piece by Jack Wilson of the Daily Star, which suggest Baines will switch to Old Trafford when the transfer window opens.
Everton’s official Twitter account charted his response:
Goal.com adds the following quotes from Martinez:
At the moment, all it is is the games and any individual contracts or situations are put aside.
The only thing that concerns me is just to make sure he’s as fit as he can be and gets in a stronger position and balances the demands of England and club level ...
Everything else, behind the scenes we’re happy with the situation and we’re making sure he’s happy as well.
Baines was a substantial target of David Moyes during the summer, as noted by Wilson, but the former Everton boss only managed to reunite with Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward recently confirmed—per Massimo Marioni of Metro—that the club had identified two areas of weakness: Central midfield and left-back.
Fellaini’s £27.5 million arrival went some way to plugging one of those holes, but the left-back area remains a focus for Moyes.
The Scot knows Baines well from their long partnership at Everton, where he helped turn the England man into one of the country’s best defenders.
Baines is expected to go to the World Cup, so he must make sure he makes the right decision if United do come calling in January.
A move to the Red Devils would put him on the ultimate stage to promote himself above Ashley Cole as England’s No. 1 left-back. However, a switch that sees him sit behind Patrice Evra at United would seriously harm his World Cup hopes.
Moyes must also ensure he is making the right call for the reigning champions. Fellaini has so far failed to justify his hefty price tag, while Baines would cost in the region of £15 million—per Wilson’s article.
That price tag is high for a player who is set to turn 29, offering United little re-sale value should Baines fail to settle at Old Trafford.