• Premier League

Everton squad stronger after Fellaini sale - Martinez

ESPN staff
September 6, 2013
ESPN FC: What kind of impact can Fellaini have at Manchester United?

Roberto Martinez believes his Everton squad is stronger in the wake of Marouane Fellaini's departure to Manchester United.

Belgium international Fellaini, 25, joined David Moyes in making the switch to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day - but Goodison Park manager Martinez managed to keep sought-after left-back Leighton Baines and brought in Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.

Martinez confirmed that England defender Baines, a United target throughout the summer, would be rewarded for his loyalty with an improved contract and said he felt keeping the 28-year-old was as good a piece of transfer deadline day business as any signing.

And he stressed that he was confident that the arrivals of McCarthy, for £13 million from Wigan, plus the signings of fellow midfielder Barry from Manchester City and striker Lukaku from Chelsea, both on a season's loan, would boost the club.

"You always want to keep your best performers, and Marouane has had five outstanding seasons at Everton," he said. "But he leaves with our blessing. Everything was done on our terms, and that's what matters. That's what's important.

"We wish him well, but I do feel that, when you lose a player, you need to end up with a better shape in the squad -- and I think that's what we achieved.

"There was a lot of talk, but it was never a case of making a decision on the player, because Marouane's contractual situation was quite straightforward. There was a clause that expired on July 31.

"From that point on, the valuation was completely different and he had a huge premium on him. Getting that allowed the deal to go through. But everything was on our terms, and everything was done in a manner that ensured the squad ended up being stronger."

Fellaini's sale was only concluded after he had submitted a transfer request on Monday evening -- something Martinez did not deny.

He added: "What we've learned in this window is that more and more players want a move, and a different challenge. This is everyone in world football, not just in the UK.

"And I think, more and more, clubs are standing firm. They are making their decisions based what what's best for the club."

Everton stood firm in their refusal to sell Baines, rejecting three bids from Manchester United, and Martinez said: "Leighton is a massively important player for us and for the future. We want to do anything we can to reward him.

"He deserves that we show our appreciation, what we feel about him. It's all positive. He's been an outstanding performer for Everton over the years.

"Now he's clearly at the peak of his career, and we're going to make sure he feels that warmth from everyone at the football club. From a contract point of view, we need to do exactly the same.

"It's more important than bringing in a new player, because he's someone who brings great experience. He's one of the best players in that position in world football."

Martinez revealed that he had been interested in signing Brazilian midfielder Fernando from Porto, but hopes of a deal ultimately came to nothing.

He said: "Fernando is a player we admire. We've been following him for a while, and he's someone who could settle in at our club. He fits all the criteria that you need to be an Everton player.

"For different reasons at the end, he wasn't one of the options that we took -- but he is a player we admire and follow very closely."

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