Roberto Martinez has denied reports suggesting Seamus Coleman is in advanced talks to sign with Manchester United, saying he wishes to keep the Everton full-back at Goodison Park "for a long time."
The Spanish manager sidestepped questioning surrounding the right-back's future on Thursday and suggested speculation is incorrect, reported by Mike Whalley of ESPN FC:
The truth is that Seamus has been having a very good season and we want that to continue. He's becoming a very important player at Everton. He's going to be a very important player for his national team.
And obviously we want Seamus to stay here for a long time, so it's nothing to comment on.
Martinez was forced to deal with a similar situation during the summer when United were interested in bringing Leighton Baines to Old Trafford. Former Everton boss David Moyes launched a "derisory" bid for the English left-back, per Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph, an attempt that ultimately failed.
Coleman's excellent performances have managed to outshine Baines this season. The Irish international's guile and tenacity in the tackle is matched by real goalscoring power, as highlighted with his recent injury-time winner against Cardiff.
The 25-year-old is currently the most prolific full-back in Europe, as tweeted by Mat Kendrick of the Birmingham Mail:
Moyes played a major role in Coleman's emergence and helped develop the player after signing him for £60,000 from Sligo Rovers in 2009.
The confident defender bombs up Everton's flank whenever possible and is confident when skipping beyond opponents. He naturally gravitates toward the opposition's box and is Everton's second top scorer of the Premier League season behind Romelu Lukaku, per WhoScored.com.
He definitely has the qualities to take Rafael's place in United's starting line-up. The Brazilian full-back has suffered a disappointing season, much like many at the Theatre of Dreams, and he has failed to develop under Moyes. Rafael is the type of player who follows a match-defining tackle with a moment of stupidity, as inconsistency filters through his game.
Coleman continues to offer a more versatile, steadfast presence in the Everton defence. It's extremely likely he will be named club player of the year, a factor that could see him receive an improved deal on Merseyside. He is "set for contract extension talks at the end of the season," according to Whalley's report.
Everton are used to rebuffing bids from elite clubs and showed they shouldn't be taken lightly when brokering Marouane Fellaini's deal to United. Moyes majorly overspent on the £27.5 million midfielder and will face a real battle to convince Coleman away from Goodison for £15 million.
He is undoubtedly a signing United need and would begin to address the team's lack of character at the back. Coleman's work rate often inspire team-mates to follow suit, his swashbuckling tendencies ensuring he leaves it all on the pitch.
Moyes understands this and would land a major coup if he can convince Everton to sell. United fans may be looking ahead to a summer of exotic spending—with names such as Toni Kroos and Marco Reus doing the rounds, per Jason Burt of The Telegraph—but the signing of Coleman could prove to be just as important for the redeveloping club.