The Manchester United manager, David Moyes, is expected to make a renewed attempt to sign Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini after an initial combined bid of £28m was dismissed as “derisory and insulting” by his former club Everton.
Having been rebuffed in their attempts to persuade Cesc Fabregas to leave Barcelona, United are believed to have offered around £16m for the versatile Belgian midfielder, who was signed by Moyes from Standard Liège for an initial £15m in 2008, with a further £12m for England left-back Baines.
However, Everton took the unusual step of releasing a statement yesterday that revealed the approach – made by United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, 48 hours before Everton’s game against Norwich on Saturday – had been immediately rejected.
“Everton can confirm that it has received bids from Manchester United for two players. Those bids were immediately rejected out of hand as derisory and insulting,” it read.
“The club did not make public these details as it was vital Roberto Martinez’s preparations for the opening game of the Premier League season were not disrupted in any way.”
United have already had a £12m bid for Baines rejected this summer and have been told they will need to increase their offer significantly if they are to sign the 28-year-old as a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra.
Everton manager Martinez confirmed last week that Fellaini’s release clause of £23.5m had expired on 31 July and it is thought United would have to get close to that figure to persuade the Merseysiders to sell. Moyes is keen to add new faces to his squad despite United making a convincing start to their title defence by beating Swansea 4-1 on Saturday. So far, the new United manager has only signed young Uruguay full-back Guillermo Varela, although Wilfried Zaha has also been added to the first-team squad, having spent the end of last season back on loan at Crystal Palace.
Both Fellaini and Baines started in the 2-2 draw with Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday and Martinez has repeatedly insisted neither is for sale. Everton’s chairman, Bill Kenwright, is well known for his tough stance on transfer fees when selling players, notably under Moyes when they forced Manchester City to pay £22m for the defender Joleon Lescott.
While there was no agreement that the Scottish manager could not attempt to buy players from his former club when he took over at Old Trafford from Sir Alex Ferguson, the terms used by Everton in their statement are an indication of their desire to keep hold of their star assets.
United have also been linked with approaches for the Real Madrid duo Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric in the past week but have still not given up hope of signing Fabregas, even though he was preferred to Andres Iniesta for the 7-0 win over Levante in Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino’s La Liga debut on Sunday.
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