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Everton deny Leighton Baines will join Manchester United in January

Roberto Martinez has hit back at reports Leighton Baines will join Manchester United in January and insists Everton’s finances are the strongest they’ve been for “many years”.

Alex Livesey

Has Leighton Baines played his last game for Everton? Was the gloomy tagline when the 29-year-old hobbled off against Liverpool last weekend.

Baines was later diagnosed broken a bone in his foot and is set to be out for between 10 days and six weeks. Therefore he could, in theory, be out until January, when the transfer window re-opens again.

Manchester United are rumoured to be ready to re-kindle their interest in the player after seeing repeated bids turned down in the summer.

There has been no concrete evidence of such a move, but Evertonians are a pessimistic bunch and fear Baines will simply become the next name on a long list of key players to be sold off in order to appease the banks.

Martinez, however, was not entertaining such reports. The Spaniard was asked whether he would be forced to sell Baines if the right offer came in and replied:

"I don't see it that way at all. In January, if we do anything, it will be to try and improve the squad, to give our players a better opportunity of a strong finish. Everything that is going to happen in January will be football related and, whatever it is, it will only be good for the squad."

He then suggested that Everton’s finances, which have seemingly been teetering on the brink of collapse for years, is actually in better health than we thought.

"As a club we don't need to use the January window to try and balance the books. I can guarantee that is not the case. We are in a position, probably one of the strongest we have been in for many years, where we can make purely football decisions on any player.

"We would never be trying to sell our players in this January window. The only thing we will do is try to make the club stronger."

However, before we all get excited about some new big name arrivals the boss urged caution, saying any new faces would likely be on-loan.

"Very rarely in January do you get good value for money. In a World Cup year you can sometimes use loans to pick up players who need to be playing in order to be considered for their national team but, if you try to make big signings in January, you will overpay because clubs are not going to let good players go cheaply and rightly so. I don't see it as a window of big signings. I expect we will be trying to find one or two players who can help us around the edges of the squad."

The World Cup-factor could be critical. Players who are struggling for regular football may lower their horizons in order to ensure they get regular action before the tournament in Brazil.

To that end Everton could well pick up a couple of gems, especially if we are still in the European positions come the New Year.

Where do we need to strengthen in January? At 29 is the time to sell Baines now? Have you day below?