Everton manager David Moyes has opened talks with star midfielder Marouane Fellaini in a bid to warn off potential suitors and secure his long-term future to the club.
The Daily Mirror reports that the 23-year-old Belgian international has attracted interest from a number of Barclays Premier League rivals, as well as La Liga giants Real Madrid.
Manchester United and Arsenal are both rumoured to be monitoring the situation after Fellaini indicated that he wants reassurances and further evidence of major investment at Goodison Park before he puts pen to paper.
With two years left on his current deal, Everton will not be under pressure to sell one of their leading lights – a belief echoed by Moyes:
"Marouane's really important to us, part of the furniture here, and of course we want him to stay.
"We did it with the likes of Jags (Phil Jagielka) and Bainesy (Leighton Baines), who are on long-term contracts. We want to keep building and obviously Marouane comes into that category."
However, Everton's precarious financial situation has often meant they are prone to generous offers from rival clubs – with Manchester United the most likely club to make a firm bid.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a known admirer of Fellaini's talent, and believes his robust nature and impact as a box-to-box midfielder would add some much needed steel to the Red Devils midfield, and so is pondering a summer approach to bring him to Old Trafford.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is also a Fellaini fan, but it is unclear whether the Gunners will be prepared to pay the required fee to orchestrate a move to the Emirates Stadium.
Moyes smashed Everton’s transfer record to sign Fellaini from Standard Liege for £15million – a record for a Belgian player.
And if the club did decide to sell, they would be looking to make a profit on the 2008 acquisition who has been a revelation in the Barclays Premier League.
Fellaini’s form this campaign has been hampered by injury, and he is currently recovering from ankle surgery so won't play again this season.
But his past performances have been good enough to convince both Manchester United and Arsenal he would fit into their respective teams, and so a summer bidding war looks likely if Fellaini fails to sign a new deal.