Everton manager Roberto Martinez has denied a deal is already in place to sign Tom Cleverley from Manchester United this summer, but has admitted he is looking to add to his squad.
Cleverley, currently on a season-long loan at Aston Villa, is likely to see his contract at Old Trafford expire in the summer with sources speculating that a move to Goodison Park could be imminent.
The England international, who played under Martinez at Wigan, had come close to a move to Everton last summer only for the move to fall through on deadline day, but it appears the deal could yet be revived.
Claims that an agreement is already in place to sign Cleverley were quashed by Martinez, who has admitted Everton’s form during the run-in would determine their transfer plans.
“No, that's not true, Tom is a player I know really well. We know the positions that we need to strengthen in the summer,” Martinez told a news conference.
“We've worked really hard since January to identify those targets but a lot of decisions will depend on how we perform in the last seven games. It's going to be a very important end of season for us in order to allow us to make the right decisions for the summer.”
Rumours have also surfaced concerning the futures of trio Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku – whose new agent Mino Raiola recently talked up the prospect of a move. Despite Raiola’s claims, Martinez was unconcerned by the prospect of player departures.
“We have a group of players here who are focused on becoming successful with Everton so there are no problems keeping them,” he said.
“My focus is to make sure we bring in two or three players to step up a level and become stronger.”
While a run of three successive wins has all but ensured their Premier League safety, Everton have endured a difficult season. In spite of their struggles, the club have kept faith Martinez’s favoured style of football, giving youngsters like Luke Garbutt the chance to impress.
Entice new players
Even without the attraction of European football at Goodison Park next season, the Everton manager still believes he can entice new players to the club.
“Within football, losing or winning doesn't affect players -- it's how you lose and I think every player who's faced Everton this season will have come out with a real respect and a real appreciation of the way we play as a club”
“We don't rely on 10 months of results. We've got a bigger picture of what we're trying to achieve and what we've got in the squad, particularly in terms of the younger players who have been given incredible roles.
“I think the perception of Everton has improved in the last 12 months. What we achieved in Europe has allowed that to happen. I see reports in Spain, France and other countries and the perception of us has improved in Europe.”