EVERTON have told Manchester United to forget about signing Leighton Baines after the Red Devils tabled a £12m bid for their prized left-back.
Old Trafford officials made the offer yesterday, amid ongoing talks with their Blues counterparts concerning the moves of David Moyes’ former back-room staff to Manchester.
New United chief executive Ed Woodward has been in contact with Moyes, who is still on holiday, and the pair’s determination to land the England defender means they are unlikely to be deterred by the rejection of their opening bid.
However the Blues are equally determined to keep hold of the 28-year-old, and the club insists it does not need to sell any of its stars this summer.
Baines, who has two years left on his current Goodison contract, is widely rated as one of the best attacking full backs in the world, and the Blues are hoping to persuade him to sign a new lucrative extension and stay on Merseyside.
It remains to be seen whether United, who still have skipper Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner competing for their left-back berth at present, will be willing to push their subsequent bids to a level which would cause the Blues board to even pause for thought.
But new Blues boss Roberto Martinez has said he is excited at the prospect of working with the former Wigan Athletic defender.
The main concern for Everton is that Baines’ ambition to nail down a regular England starting spot ahead of Ashley Cole could prompt him to conclude that playing in the Champions League is a must – especially with a World Cup year looming.
That would then leave the down-to-earth Kirkby- born player with the prospect of having to ask to leave the club he joined for £6m in 2007.
Baines has already spoken of his own enthusiasm to work with Martinez, who he believes will help Everton’s style of football to flourish.
The ECHO understands there is now unlikely to be any further developments until next week, when Moyes officially starts his new job at the reigning Premier League champions, and Martinez will take control at Finch Farm.
Everton's players are due to report back for pre-season training on Wednesday.
Last season Baines created 116 chances for team-mates – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues – and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for the second successive season.