London - Everton can resist any bids for highly-prized young England midfielder Ross Barkley when the January transfer window opens because they are in a strong financial position, manager Roberto Martinez said on Tuesday.
Barkley, who turned 20 this month, has been linked with a 50 million pounds ($82.63 million) move to Manchester United after a series of excellent displays which have helped lift Everton into the top four of the Premier League.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference before Wednesday's match at Stoke City, the Spaniard was asked if he was confident that the club could turn down approaches for the player.
Martinez said: “Yes. Absolutely. There is not even a doubt.
“He has a long-term contract and the first half of the season has been a real joy to see him grow and the second half of the season will be even better.
“We are in a strong position financially. When you have to bring in money then it can be a real difficult position as you can be anxious and frustrated.
“The stability we have from a financial point of view allows us to make football decisions and this January window is important for us to make sure we kick on and finish stronger than we started.”
Barkley has not only become a first-team regular this season, he has also won his first England caps, playing three times, against Moldova, Chile and Germany.
Martinez has described him as a mix of Paul Gascoigne, the former England midfielder and Michael Ballack, the former Germany one, while his former Everton team mate Tim Cahill said he was the most talented player he had ever worked with.
He has played in 18 of Everton's 19 Premier League matches so far and scored with a brilliantly-executed late free kick in Everton's 2-1 win at Swansea City last week.
Everton are currently fourth in the table and could climb to third if Chelsea lose at Southampton and they win at Stoke whose form at home has been in stark contrast to their away performances.
Stoke lost 5-1 at Newcastle United and 3-0 at Tottenham Hotspur over Christmas and have the worst away record in the Premier League, but 16 of their 21 points have come at home where they have lost once in nine games.
Martinez expects a tough match at the Britannia, telling reporters: “You look at their last two results, there was a freak performance against Newcastle and that affected them going into Spurs.
“Stoke at home are unbeaten in their last six. They have won their last two. When they play at the Britannia they are an extremely difficult team.
“We know what we are facing and we need to be at our best and fully recovered. I expect a very difficult game tomorrow.”
Having lost only two games so far this season, the fewest in the Premier League, Martinez is pleased with Everton's progress.
“It's been a very good start. Halfway through is a good landmark to assess where we are and we have 37 points which is significant,” he said.
“But the most important aspect is how we got those 37 points. It's not been a matter of being lucky or fortunate in key moments - it's the opposite.
“We have had the lowest amount of defeats and the draws we have had, they were probably closer to victories.
“The performances we have had at very special places - like Old Trafford, the Emirates and the Liberty Stadium - gives us great excitement going into the second half of the season.” – Reuters