Everton would not sell midfielder Ross Barkley, even if they received a “Gareth Bale-sized valuation” next month.
Manager Roberto Martinez is aware of the comparisons between the 20-year-old and Wayne Rooney, who was sold to Manchester United in 2004 before Goodison Park felt the true benefits of his talent. Martinez is confident that this time Everton will hold on to their crown jewel – at least in the short term.
“We are probably in the strongest financial position we have been for a long, long time,” he said. “Even if we got a Gareth Bale-sized valuation, we would never, ever consider it in January.
“We are in the middle of a season where we would never, ever consider disrupting what we have got in our squad now.”
The summer may be a different story, when a “Bale-sized bid” would represent a greater sum than the annual turnover of £80.5m Everton declared in January. Martinez believed the club would be able to dictate the terms of any transfer. “You cannot fight against the trend of the modern game,” he said. “You saw it with Bale, with Cristiano Ronaldo. What is important is if anything happens, it is our club that dictates how and when. If we were going to lose a player, it would be to end up with three or four replacements and in a stronger position.”
The former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, now with Manchester United, will be out of action for up to six weeks following wrist surgery. Fellaini, who had already been out since 4 December with a back problem, had the operation on Saturday and is set to miss seven Premier League games, the third round of the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the League Cup.
United’s manager, David Moyes, said: “We couldn’t get him recovered from his back. We thought it would be OK after 10 days. So we made a quick decision to get the wrist done.”