New Everton manager Roberto Martinez wants to keep hold of club 'icon' Leighton Baines
Manchester United have already had a £12m bid turned down for the England defender but are expected to make improved offer.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has labelled defender Leighton Baines as an ‘icon' as he attempts to fend off Manchester United from making a move for the left-back.
The club rejected a £12m offer from United last week, but it is widely expected that former Everton boss David Moyes will return with an improved offer for the England international.
The Toffees have stressed that Baines is not for sale at any price, and they are hopeful that he will sign an extension to the two years he has left with the club.
And Martinez, who took over at the helm following Moyes’ switch to Old Trafford, has underlined the 28-year-old’s importance to the club.
"I think Leighton is more than a player, he is an icon," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"He represents a lot about our football club and I am really, really excited about Leighton. This is a big season for him and for us as a club.
"When you are the left-back of this football club, and the level that he has been reaching over the last few years consistently, it shows me that he is the best left-back in the country.
"I can't wait to start working with him."
Martinez will be meeting with his players for the first time today as they report back for pre-season training, having made the switch from Wigan following their FA Cup triumph and relegation disappointment.
The Spaniard is believed to be tapping into the services of his former club as he attempts to complete deals for both Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz from the Latics.
The deal for Kone could cost Everton around £6.5m, but Alcaraz will join on a free transfer once his contract is negotiated.
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Premier League: Chelsea vs West Ham match preview
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
The best sport selfies of 2014
Jose Mourinho on Sir Alex Ferguson: 'A good friend, a good person, a fantastic sense of humour. I like him very, very much'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food