Roberto Martinez and Everton have accepted the fact that there is likely to be strong interest for Leighton Baines in January, regardless of whether or not he signs a new contract, according to the Mirror.
Baines was the subject of more than one bid from Manchester United over the summer and his performances this season have done little to put off potential suitors.
His exploits for England over this international break have attracted particular praise, and Martinez believes that he is so good that clubs will chase him even if he pens a new deal.
“I don’t think it’s less likely there will be speculation if he signs a contract, He’s an icon for us. He’s not just a top left-back, he’s an Evertonian and it’s what he represents to us," the Everton boss said.
“Signing a contract or not wouldn’t stop the speculation. You’re never going to stop the rumours and talk that comes with a player performing so, so well at such a high level.
“Seriously, I’m not concerned about that because you can never stop it. Cavani signed a new one and then he got sold a few months later. Throughout the world of football, players have become big assets. That’s never going to change."
Martinez was also quick to play up his man's credentials, lauding him as an exceptional player and acknowledging that there is always going to be interest because of his brilliant form of late.
"You can look throughout world football and won’t find many players as complete as Leighton," he continued.
“You have outstanding attackers who find it difficult to defend or you have outstanding defenders who find it difficult to get into the final third.
"Then there are players who are good at both, but don’t have the understanding or energy to perform the role.
“He covers everything. He can take free-kicks, all the dead ball qualities he has and gets into the final third with an incredible threat. And defensively he’s as good a left-back as you're ever going to get.”
Reports initially suggested that Everton would offer Baines a lucrative deal as a reward for his loyalty over the summer. Despite an intense pursuit by David Moyes, the England international opted not to try and force a move, but it now seems that Martinez believes offering a new deal won't have the usual effect of putting other clubs off the chase.