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Benitez on January transfers, injury latest and possible departures amid Arsenal’s Calvert-Lewin interest

The Toffees boss is confident of keeping key players at the club

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez insists he is not under pressure to sell players amid rumours linking Dominic Calvert-Lewin with Arsenal FC.

Several notable Merseyside reporters including Paul Joyce and Dominic King claim the Gunners are keen on the England international to replace Alexandre Lacazette at the end of the season.

Calvert-Lewin only signed a new five-year contract last year so Everton would have a strong hand in negotiations, though given the club’s recent track record in the transfer market there isn’t much trust in their ability to bring in a replacement if he is sold for a decent fee.

Benitez appeared to hint in an earlier news conference that the club may need to sell players “at a profit” going forward as they face up to a new transfer reality, suggesting some big names may have to be sacrificed to fund spending elsewhere.

However he appeared to backtrack slightly, suggesting that only those he wanted to move on would be allowed to leave.

“In terms of our players, they cannot go if we don’t want. We are happy with the situation in terms of the contracts with some players and it depends on us, We don’t want to lose our players if not necessary. If we sell players it’s because we want to sell players. If we don’t want to sell players, we don’t need to sell players.”

When asked about incomings this January, Benitez conceded that the winter market is a difficult one to work in, with Everton’s lowly league position and terrible form complicating things further when trying to persuade players to come to Goodison.

“Our market is clear, there are players you can get and players you cannot, that’s the reality because of the Champions League or playing in Europe.

“Maybe they won’t come now, but at same time we need to know if these players want to come.”

Looking ahead to the Arsenal game and Benitez said Yerry Mina could make his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury.

The Colombian has been sidelined since October with absence leaving a huge hole in Everton’s shaky backline.

Calvert-Lewin, arguably the biggest loss of them all, is still a few weeks away from a return.

“Yerry Mina has done today part of the training session so he’s getting closer. We’ll see how he reacts in the next couple of days. Rondon, we are assessing still. He’s feeling better but we need to see the scan. Andre Gomes has been training.

“He’s (Calvert-Lewin) doing well. I was talking to the physio, the fitness coach... but it’s still a couple of weeks minimum. We have to be very careful with him because he’s had two other injuries.“