Saint Luke will answer Manchester United's prayers

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The highly-rated Luke Shaw, 18, is regarded as one of England’s best prospects, and Manchester United manager David Moyes has checked on him after facing up to the prospect of missing out on Leighton Baines, according to the Daily Express.

Shaw signed a five-year contract at Southampton in the summer and starred in the opening-weekend victory over West Brom, to further underline his importance to the Saints, who do not need to sell.

But the teenager, who is rated at about £10million, has come under renewed scrutiny by United in the past few days after a joint £28million bid – rising to £30million – for Baines, and his club-mate Marouane Fellaini, was dismissed as “derisory and insulting” by the Goodison Park club.

United are expected to increase their offer to about £35million over the coming days, and are unlikely to split the bid and just go for one or the other.

Yet there seems little chance of Everton caving in even at that improved figure, with chairman Bill Kenwright having made keeping Baines, in particular, his priority.

Everton’s trenchant stance with United is partly motivated by their anger over how Moyes was, effectively, appointed behind their backs by Sir Alex Ferguson when still in charge at Goodison.

Former United chief executive David Gill apologised to Everton for the way Moyes was installed as Ferguson’s successor. But resentment still lingers.

There is also the fact that Everton believed they had an agreement with Gill’s replacement, Ed Woodward, that United would not bid again for Baines when a second offer of £12million was rebuffed. A first bid of £9million was immediately rejected.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez added his voice to the chorus of condemnation at the club towards United by dismissing the offer – which was made just 48 hours before the season opener with Norwich – as a “waste of time”.

“It has been well documented what happened with the transfer speculation," he was quoted by the Daily Telegraph.

"That has been dealt with and it was all a little bit of a waste of time – time I don’t want players to waste. The start of the season was important for us, at Norwich, and I won’t come out now and carry on talking about the speculation.

“The players have had the demands of international football and then they started the league season with a lot of travelling. So it has been important these past few days that we can get them recovered, regenerate them and get them ready for the next game."

While United’s interest is likely to appeal to both Baines and Fellaini, who saw a £23.5million release clause in his contract expire on July 31, the situation has reinforced Martinez’s view that the transfer window should close before the season starts.

“I don’t believe in getting involved in the transfer window when the games are under way and we are in an important moment of our season,” added the Everton boss, who has asked about a loan deal for Gareth Barry, Manchester City’s midfielder.

“We are trying to find our feet and have got a good start under our belts. But we have got real competition for places.”

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