Everton manager Roberto Martinez has flatly denied any interest in Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, while insisting James McCarthy will remain at the Merseyside club.
Martinez and his Toffees are in Singapore for this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy and will take on Arsenal in the final on Saturday night.
But that hasn’t stopped speculation raging back in England about possible transfer moves both in and out of Everton.
Midfielder McCarthy, who joined the club from Wigan on a £13 million transfer back in 2013, has been linked with Tottenham and Manchester City.
Martinez believes someone behind the scenes is planting stories about the Irish international’s desire to leave, but the Spaniard stressed McCarthy is critical to his future plans.
“James McCarthy is a story that we keep hearing,” he said. “I can only guess where’s that coming from, but I can tell you from our point of view James McCarthy is a phenomenal asset.
“We spent a huge amount of money to bring him to our football club, we’re going to build a team around him, he’s got a long, long-term contract with Everton and there isn’t a single issue.
“James McCarthy enjoys his football, he’s an example for our group and there is no story. If someone wants to keep banging that speculation around, he must have his reason, and everyone else should understand that.
“For every Evertonian’s piece of mind, James McCarthy is at Everton, he’s an incredible asset for us, a very important player and we’re going to build the future around him. There’s no story to comment on.”
The Toffees have had a relatively quiet off-season in terms of the transfer window, bringing in talented Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu and ex-Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.
Martinez said earlier this week Everton are still working behind the scenes and do want to add one or two more players to the squad before the window shuts.
But it seems Evans, who has been linked with a move in the region of £8 million, won’t be one of them.
“It’s not true,” Martinez declared. “I know that I always say I’m not going to be commenting publicly on any of the names that are being shared around, but I can tell you clearly there is nothing true in that story.”
Regardless of any further transfer deals, Martinez is extremely content with the level of talent at his disposal ahead of the new season.
Despite a lowly 11th-place finish in the Premier League in 2014-15, there has been a noticeable confidence emanating from all the Everton players about the looming campaign during their trip to Singapore.
“That confidence is part of the group,” Martinez said. “Remember that we’ve got an incredible group of players.
“I’ve never worked with a group with so much professionalism and such an understanding of representing Everton and what it means.
“We genuinely were really disappointed last season and what we did in the first half of the league. There is a clear desire and want to get the time back and start well.
“Everything we do on the pitch, it shows that focus, that belief, and we know that we’re a good team. Now it’s a matter of developing momentum with it, winning games and seeing how far we can go.”