MIKEL ARTETA is determined to be fit to face Manchester United in a fortnight – as rumours of interest from Spanish giants Valencia were rubbished.
The Everton playmaker is desperate to at least make the bench for the Old Trafford clash on April 23, after stepping up his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Arteta, 29, was hoping to get the green light to return to training this week, and had pencilled in the Goodison game against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as his possible comeback.
But the latest scan on his hamstring last Thursday showed the tear he suffered 10 minutes into a game against Birmingham City last month had not yet fully healed, and pushed back his progress by seven days.
David Moyes will not rush him back too soon, and is prepared to wait the extra week – while remaining equally calm about reports in some media last week that linked Arteta with a summer move to Valencia
Several papers claimed that the La Liga club's sporting director Braulio Vazquez had been in touch with Arteta's agent, Inaki Ibanez, and suggested Everton could listen to offers for the midfielder as they attempt to reduce their £45million debt before the start of next season.
But although Ibanez did meet with Vazques, the ECHO understands that Arteta’s signature was not on the agenda and the pair were discussing other matters.
The former Paris St Germain and Rangers player only signed a lucrative five-year deal last summer, and is said to be content on Merseyside.
Meanwhile, Fulham appear to be in pole position to secure the signing of Darlington central defender Dan Burn this summer.
Moyes had made the 400-mile round trip himself to watch the 6ft 6in defender play for the non-league side against Newport in Wales recently, but although he has since made an offer to the North East club, Burn then travelled South to hold talks with Fulham.
The 18-year-old’s future is unlikely to be fully resolved until the summer when the transfer window reopens, although Mark Hughes’ club will push him to indicate his future is in London. Moyes has not given up on bringing Burn to Goodison, although had only targeted him based on undoubted potential and the youngster was never set to figure in his first team plans for next season.