A week on from his impressive return to the Everton FC side, Roberto Martinez is unconcerned with the attention his prized asset Ross Barkley continues to attract from elsewhere.
A knee ligament injury the day before the season started curtailed the 20-year-old’s start to the campaign but despite being sidelined for two months the England international was still linked with a move to Manchester City.
It’s not the first time the Premier League champions have been sniffing around the lifelong Evertonian but with the Blues valuing Barkley in the £50million bracket, Martinez is not losing any sleep.
He said: “It’s the eternal debate. Can you stop a player from following a dream? I’m not too bothered about that.
“I’m really excited to see how Ross has developed in the last 13 months, how John Stones has developed in the last 13 months, to see how people like Romelu Lukaku have fitted in our football club in a fantastic manner, James McCarthy becoming so important, Gareth Barry feeling so at home in a really experienced moment of his career.
“The only thing that matters is that we have a really strong side that I’m excited with and whatever decisions the club makes will be for the good of Everton.
“The fans know that and they can be relaxed about it.
“All the speculation and talk is positive. Because you don’t get any of that when your players are not playing well or they haven’t got potential. I’d rather have lots of team showing interest in our players because we don’t have to be forced to do things that we don’t want.”
With a quota of homegrown players having been introduced in the Premier League, young domestic players have become particularly coveted by the likes of City who have the oldest squad in the top flight and only two Englishmen – Joe Hart and James Milner – currently playing in their first team.
However, with both Barkley and Stones who also broke into Roy Hodgson’s national team squad last season both having penned new long term contracts over the summer, Martinez insists the Blues would never part lightly with their brightest young stars.
He said: “I don’t think it is easy to get footballers like John Stones and Ross Barkley. I think as English players they are phenomenal footballers and you are going to get that.
“I think it’s just as a football club we want John and Ross to keep progressing, keep developing and they know they can do that with Everton. That’s the only thing that matters to me. To seem them enjoying their football and see them stretch in the way we play and see them fulfil their potential.
“I’m not going to just be worried about other teams interest, because there will be interest there’s no two ways about it.
“Those two players are as good as it gets in terms of that age group, if not European football. It’s a matter of making sure they keep progressing and keep developing.
“If I see they keep developing with us there is no need to worry.
Martinez added: “Everything is there for them [clubs like Manchester City] to buy. It makes a difference is you have a year left or five years left but in the same way, we are a club that does not have to sell.
“We have gone past that period and the football club is in a fantastic moment financially. We showed that in the last transfer window and everything will be football decisions.
“That gives me a real peace of mind and tranquillity of making sure the players at the club keep progressing, keep getting better and stronger and that is a good position to be in.
“It doesn’t worry me at all. That is the nature of the game. If Manchester United lost Ronaldo, it was because the game changes and you need to understand that.
“The loyalty that the players had many years ago is out of the game. But as a football club, we don’t need to sell and that makes every decision a football one for the good of the club, so I’m very relaxed about it.”
While Wayne Rooney departed Everton for Manchester United aged just 18 and Jack Rodwell also moved down the M62 for an ill-fated spell at City, Martinez is unimpressed with players who feel they have to move to win things as he believes that if they are truly great players then they could win things at the club they already play for,
He said: “It’s no good just saying ‘I want to have success’ and then not have a responsibility on it.
“I heard many want to move clubs because they want to win titles. I think they are in the wrong business. You need to take the responsibility of winning things, otherwise you are not that good if you cannot affect the results of your team.
“Our young players are respectful enough of the older players but arrogant enough to understand that they have got big roles here and expect that if they stay they will bring success and not the other way around.
“You could look though many cases around history – Michael Owen left Liverpool to go to Real Madrid to win titles and Liverpool then win the Champions League. Sometimes as a player you need to be careful with your wishes.”