Roberto Martinez has crushed Manchester United's hopes of trying to sign Ross Barkley by confirming Everton will not sell any of their star players during the current transfer window.
As reported by Elliot Bretland of the Daily Mail, the Toffees boss is adamant his top stars will remain at Goodison Park beyond January, quashing suggestions that David Moyes could swoop for the emerging Englishman:
We've attracted a lot of attention with the performances of our players but I can tell everybody that you can be very, very assured that we are not going to lose any of the top performers that we have this season.
Martinez's assertion also suggests Leighton Baines won't be swapping Merseyside for Manchester, although United fans will be used to hearing the Spaniard deter their interest.
Reports suggested Moyes had lined up Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao as an alternative to Baines, but the manager denied a deal is in place to sign the Portuguese left-back, per Jack Wilson of the Daily Star.
Moyes is understandably being extremely cautious when discussing possible deals after failing to land many of his targets during the summer transfer window.
United are in desperate need of midfield talent, and there's no denying Barkley would help remedy the shortcomings of the club's central area. His power, speed in possession and ability to drive the team forward with positive runs is currently lacking from the Premier League champions' play.
Martinez recently suggested Everton wouldn't accept a world-record bid of £86 million for the 20-year-old, per David Maddock of the Mirror, but that would be extremely foolish if such funds were ever laid on the table.
With United toiling down in seventh, out of the FA Cup and trailing Sunderland 2-1 after the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final, Barkley is unlikely to fancy leaving a team that is currently excelling in fifth.
Rod Dawson of the Manchester Evening News makes an excellent point when suggesting that, at the current time, Barkley doesn't need to join a struggling United squad to develop his future:
... He's a midfielder. A central midfielder. Which makes him worth his weight in gold at Old Trafford.
But while Barkley would fill a desperate need at United, the bigger question is whether he needs United? And the answer, at the moment at least, is no.
... After all, as it stands, United need Barkley more than he needs them.
While this may change in the near future, it's difficult to suggest any kind of transfer would benefit Barkley at this stage of his career.
He has appeared in 19 of the club's 20 games in the current Premier League season—starting 16 encounters, per WhoScored.com—and continues to be given great responsibility under a manager who believes in his ability.
It would be unnecessary to change this, as right now, Barkley is more than likely to be selected for Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad. As an added factor, United's run of three consecutive losses since the turn of the year barely makes Moyes' team an attractive prospect to play for.
Old Trafford followers are hankering for a new midfield star—as they have been across the past few years—but it appears the quest for Barkley needs to be put to bed before it even really begins.