Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has acknowledged that the club could lose Marouane Fellaini this summer – but insists the rest of the squad are not for sale.
Fellaini has a release clause in his contract that allows him to talk to any club in the Champions League who put in a bid of at least £24 million.
Although the Belgium international recently played down talk of a move to Manchester United, David Moyes, who brought the midfielder to Goodison Park from Standard Liege for £15 million in 2008, is understood to be weighing up a move.
However, Kenwright has warned Moyes against any attempt to take left-back Leighton Baines or other members of the Everton squad. The chairman, who appointed Roberto Martinez as his new manager on Wednesday, is adamant that he will not follow the example of Dave Whelan, his Wigan counterpart.
Amid speculation that Martinez would attempt to take some of Wigan’s best players with him after leaving the DW Stadium for Goodison Park, Whelan suggested that he could do so if the price was right.
Kenwright said: “I’m not Dave Whelan. I’ve not said to David [Moyes]: ‘David, come on.’ I’ve said exactly the opposite. I’ve said to David [Moyes]: ‘We all know the situation at Everton. We all know there’s a player who’s got an escape clause, but the others are not for sale.’
“I’m as in love with this football squad as any Evertonian out there. They are this club and we don’t want them to go. They have worked massively hard for this club. Roberto doesn’t want them to go either. He’s got all of their phone numbers.
“He’s going to be on the phone to all of them saying: ‘We don’t want you to go.’ And they don’t want to go. Not one person has even half-indicated to me that the change will mean a change for them. Exactly the opposite – they all seem totally committed to it.
“So, yeah, I’m confident that squad, plus some Roberto signings, will form this football club’s squad for next season.”
Kenwright and Martinez have both declared their ambition to guide Everton into the Champions League.
Both men have made it clear that this is a long-term goal, rather than one that will necessarily be achieved within the next 12 months, but having seen Moyes guide Everton to seven successive top-eight finishes on one of the Premier League’s lowest budgets, Kenwright is hopeful that Martinez can continue the good work.
The Everton chairman insists that he is still looking for the extra investment that can carry the club forwards.
He added: “You cannot beat the money week in, week out but you can build something where you get a share of that money. And the minute you get into that Champions League, it is a different world already. With the Financial Fair Play laws that are coming in, maybe there are possibilities of getting into that Champions League and sharing some of it.
“There’ll be a lot of Evertonians saying: ‘Hold on a minute – where’s the billionare?’ We’re still desperately looking for the billionaire, or the billions, but while you’re doing that, you’ve got to try to keep going what we’ve established here over the last ten years.”