Everton are bracing themselves for an approach from Premier League rivals Manchester United over midfielder James McCarthy.
This is according to recent reports from Goal, who suggest that senior members of the playing staff at Goodison Park are shocked that the 23-year-old has not been handed a new deal with the club.
Indeed, the same source further claim that McCarthy himself is not content with his current contract situation, a factor which could feasibly lead to him being interested in a move away from Everton.
Losing a player of McCarthy's impressive caliber would certainly come as a huge disappointment to Roberto Martinez, the manager who oversaw his rapid progress at former club Wigan Athletic and ensured that he followed him to Everton to continue his development last summer.
The Republic of Ireland international enjoyed a hugely promising debut campaign on Merseyside, making 34 appearances as Martinez guided Everton to an encouraging fifth-placed finish.
£25 million-rated McCarthy started the first game of the new 2014/15 season on Saturday, playing all 90 minutes of Everton's exciting 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Tricky summer at Old Trafford
It has been another difficult summer in the transfer market for Manchester United, with Louis van Gaal obviously becoming frustrated with a lack of big-name signings prior to the club's disappointing 2-1 opening day defeat to Swansea at Old Trafford.
Despite Ander Herrera's arrival from La Liga outfit Athletic Club, Manchester United remain noticeably short on real quality in the centre of midfield - a position that has been shockingly neglected in recent years.
23-year-old McCarthy would certainly be an encouraging acquisition for Van Gaal, although it could certainly be argued that Manchester United are in dire need of a more experienced and robust presence in that area in the mold of an Arturo Vidal.
The all-action Juventus enforcer has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, although it looks unlikely that a deal will be completed prior to this month's transfer deadline.
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