MAROUANE FELLAINI does have a buy-out clause in the lucrative contract he signed at Goodison in 2011 – but Everton hope they can satisfy the Belgian’s Champions League ambitions on Merseyside.
Reports yesterday claimed that Fellaini could be prised from the Blues if a Champions League club bids £22 million or more for his services.
There is a buy-out clause in Fellaini’s contract – placed there at the request of his representatives – but the trigger fee is higher than the £22m reported.
Everton officials, who refused to comment on the story, believe a top-four finish this season would convince Fellaini to stay.
Chelsea are reported to be the club ready to test Everton’s resolve to keep hold of their talented 25-year-old, but not until the summer.
The Blues will not comment on possible transfer scenarios and refused to even discuss the possibility of Fellaini’s exit.
But it is understood that Chelsea, who took advantage of a similar buy-out clause to sign Demba Ba from Newcastle, see Fellaini as a long-term replacement for Frank Lampard.
No bid is anticipated in January, and Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was coy about any interest.
“You know and we know we will see a lot of names in the newspapers,” he said.
“Sometimes it is because it’s true, sometimes it’s the agents, sometimes it’s because they don’t have anything to talk about.
“It is normal in the transfer market but for us we just concentrate on football and playing Swansea.
“I am really pleased with my squad, with my players, they are doing well and hopefully we can improve them.
“I will not talk about the market, sorry. I know it is January but we do our business between us.
“If we have to do something, we’ll do it. I have to respect and trust my players. That’s what I will do.”
Fellaini appears in no rush to quit Goodison. Only 10 days ago he indicated a willingness to see out the contract which made him the highest paid player at the club.
“I have a contract with Everton until 2016, and, if the club want, I will see that out,” he said. “I know I am hot, and I want to move forward one day, but I will finish my Everton contract if they want me to.”
Suggestions that Chelsea may try to tempt Everton with a lower offer would be met with a frosty response by the Blues. Despite posting losses of £9m last week for the year ending June 2012 Everton are not in a position where they have to sell and believe the increased loss will be cancelled out in their next accounts.
Reacting to speculation about Victor Anichebe on Monday night, David Moyes said he had no intention of selling anybody in January.