EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez believes Leighton Baines is vital to the club’s future and has warned Manchester United he will fight to keep the England international.
The Spaniard described the 28-year-old defender as “phenomenal” and said the standard he had produced over the last couple of years made him the best left-back in the country.
Everton last week turned down a £12 million bid from United after former Toffees manager David Moyes returned to his old club in an attempt to cherry-pick one of their prized assets.
While that offer was rebuffed, the Old Trafford club are expected to come back with a significantly-improved figure but Everton have stressed Baines is not for sale and want him to extend his contract beyond the existing two years he has remaining.
Baines is about to enter his seventh year at Goodison Park and Martinez believes the Kirkby-born player has become the standard bearer for everything the club represents.
“Leighton is a phenomenal performer and has become a very consistent player for Everton,” he said. “A lot of people get upset when other clubs show interest in their players but I feel it is compliment.
“Leighton is vital for our future and what we are going to achieve at the club. The level that he has been reaching over the last few years consistently shows me that he is the best left-back in the country.”
Martinez is focusing on making additions to his squad not worrying about potential departures. The Spaniard is keen to bring in the right characters and while he insists he will not be rushed in that search two arrivals are imminent.
It is understood deals for his former Wigan players Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz are almost done.
Striker Kone is likely to cost the Toffees £5million but centre-back Alcaraz will arrive on a free transfer once his contract has been finalised.
“They are players that I know really, really well. I worked with them really closely and they are players that are used to the Premier League and the British game,” he told evertontv.
“You will always get those sorts of situations but at the moment we are still looking to try to bring the right characters to the football club.
“We need to remember that we have a very strong team at the club, but in the same way we don’t want to close the window without feeling stronger than we were when the window opened.
“I’m sure that we will have many other names mentioned and hopefully we are going to get the right characters to represent our football club.
“I think we need to bring in three or four new faces – one per unit (goalkeeper, defence, midfield and up front) and make sure we get an extra option or dimension into the squad.
“It is vital to bring the right characters in and whoever steps into the dressing room comes with the possibility of offering something different and extra.
“It is not a matter of bringing in numbers or bringing in players quickly. The most important aspect is to try to keep the squad together and get every player ready. I have been able to speak with the majority of them and as a manger you can’t wait to get to know the players and how they think and where they are physically.
“It is important we have a successful pre-season because it is a time when you can set certain aspects which can help us at the start of the season.”
Under-21 defender Luke Garbutt has signed a new two-year deal to take him through to 2015. The left-back, a member of England’s Under-20 World Cup squad this summer, made his first-team debut in the 5-0 Capital Cup second round victory over Leyton Orient last August.
Swansea sign £5m Shelvey from Liverpool
Swansea have completed the signing of Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey in a £5 million four-year deal.
The 21-year-old had fallen down the pecking order at
Anfield and when the two clubs agreed a fee late on Tuesday a deal was concluded quickly.
Shelvey travelled to south Wales yesterday morning and agreed personal terms and
completed a medical.
“Liverpool Football Club have confirmed Jonjo Shelvey has completed a transfer to Swansea City,” said a Reds statement. “Everybody at Liverpool FC would like to wish Jonjo all the best for the future.”
Shelvey spent three years at Anfield after joining from Charlton in May 2010 for a fee of £1.7m. He made 69 appearances for the Reds, scoring seven goals.
Swansea will pay the £5m up front with other add-ons accounting for a further £1m and the midfielder will now join the Swansea squad for their pre-
season tour of the Netherlands.
Chairman Huw Jenkins had spoken of the need to increase their quota of homegrown
players and Shelvey, an established England Under-21 international who made his senior debut against San Marino last year, fits the bill.
“We have got to make sure that the make-up of our squad is right,” Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said. “And obviously part of that is making sure that we have so many British players in there. We have got to do that – there is no choice because they are the rules.”
Elsewhere yesterday, Sunderland confirmed the arrival of Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone. The 25-year-old Italian has moved to the Stadium of Light for an undisclosed fee,
understood to be in the region of £2m, and has signed a two-year contract.
And newly-promoted Crystal Palace have signed striker Dwight Gayle from Peterborough on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee.