Tuesday 6 December 2016

Roberto Martinez: John Stones will not leave in January

Published 19/11/2015 | 13:51

Everton's John Stones is reportedly interesting Barcelona as well as Chelsea
Everton's John Stones is reportedly interesting Barcelona as well as Chelsea

Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists the likes of John Stones will not be sold in January - and is refusing to be drawn on reports linking the Toffees with Ron Vlaar.

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The Merseyside outfit stood firm over the summer amid bids from Chelsea for England defender Stones, who had a transfer request rejected.

There has been talk of the Barclays Premier League champions trying again in the January transfer window, and of the 21-year-old interesting Barcelona.

But when asked on Thursday about whether Everton's best players could be leaving in January, Martinez said: "Not at all, no.

"We're not in a position where we have to make financial decisions (like that).

"The focus is clearly on trying to be strong together and having a real continuity."

Martinez, who was speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League home clash with Aston Villa, suggested Everton would not be involved in much business at all during January.

"From our point of view, the window will be to try to see if there is anything we can do to help the squad we have," he said.

"If there are any opportunities, we will always look into it. But we don't look at this window as one to be really involved, to bring players in or sell players.

"For us, it's more a matter of continuity."

One player Everton are reportedly considering recruiting is Vlaar, the Holland centre-half without a club since leaving Villa over the summer.

When quizzed on that matter on Thursday, Martinez indicated no talks had taken place with Vlaar, and said: "You're talking about a player that has very good experience in the Premier League and is not attached to other clubs.

"But at the moment it is not for me to mention about any other players apart from those we have in the squad. I have nothing to comment."

Everton's ex-Villa midfielder Tom Cleverley is poised to make his first-team return on Saturday from an ankle injury sustained in August.

And Martinez will make a late decision on whether Leighton Baines - who has also been troubled by an ankle problem - is ready to make his maiden first-team appearance of the season, saying it is a situation being assessed " day by day".

Midfielder Muhamed Besic could also make his comeback, while defenders Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning are doubts due to knocks, with the latter having undergone a scan on his knee.

Meanwhile, Martinez has backed the idea of playing the French national anthem before all matches this weekend as a mark of respect for those affected by the terror attacks on Paris.

"I think we all experienced the feelings surrounding the game between England and France on Tuesday," Martinez said.

"It was a fantastic vehicle for showing solidarity and what the game of football can do, and I think this weekend would be exactly the same.

"It's a perfect way to show the game has a strong role in getting humanity together to show that solidarity."

Press Association

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