Everton boss Roberto Martinez appears to be the only person in football certain that star full back Leighton Baines will not be making a move to Old Trafford any time soon.
It has been taken as a given by most in the game that the move will happen eventually, so much so that it is almost a surprise to hear someone say otherwise. But while Martinez made no guarantees about the summer window, he is adamant that he won’t be forced into shopping for left backs in the New Year.
Everton have so far rejected two approaches from United for their coveted left back, and reports a month ago suggested that the champions’ persistence would eventually pay off as the Toffees finally make their peace with losing a third prize asset to Old Trafford in under six months.
After David Moyes became the first to make the short trip along the M62 in the summer, the man who spent over ten years at Goodison wasted no time in risking the wrath of his former employers by making a combined move for Baines and Marouane Fellaini.
And while the fuzzy-haired Belgian ended up joining his former boss in Manchester, Everton remained resolute over Baines, rebuffing a double swoop in favour of a Fellaini-only deal on the last day of the transfer window.
It came a year after Sir Alex Ferguson made a similar attempt to nab Baines, when Fergie’s £15million bid was deemed too paltry for Bill Kenwright and co to accept.
But the Blues seemed ready to finally buckle this winter, having got another two seasons of excellence from the free-scoring full back, with a third offer expected in January as Old Trafford officials plan for the expected summer departure of 32-year-old Patrice Evra.
But while United have toiled at times under the new manager, Everton have flourished under theirs and currently find themselves in a Champions League spot, three points and two places above the Reds.
It’s a particularly impressive feat given Baines’ absence through injury, with stand in Bryan Oviedo looking more than accomplished in his position. It leaves Martinez and Everton in a much stronger bargaining position, with the former Wigan boss guaranteeing with “100%” certainty that his man will stay until the end of the season at least.
It could leave United looking for alternatives, though they may opt not to return to Real Madrid for Fabio Coentrao, given that a botched attempt in the summer left red faces on all at United and summed up a dismal transfer window for the club.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.