Everton are determined that Leighton Baines will remain their player as Manchester United consider returning with a higher bid than the offer of around £12m that was refused for the left-back.
United made that bid some time ago, according to sources on Merseyside, and have yet to follow up their interest in a player who has been coveted at Old Trafford since last summer, when Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes's predecessor as manager, hoped to sign him.
Then, the view at Everton was that £18m was the minimum fee required for the executive to even countenance selling Baines, with the club perhaps reluctantly allowing the transfer for a price around £20m. With Baines now a year older at 28 and having only two years remaining on his contract his value has decreased to the extent that he could be sold for as low as £16m.
A year ago, the indication from the player's camp was that he would be open to considering the move. While Baines's representatives could not be reached on Friday, the sense is that it is now or never for him at Old Trafford, where he would be first choice ahead of Patrice Evra, a situation that would raise his hopes of dislodging Ashley Cole as England's left-back for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Moyes's decision to renew United's interest has so far left Evra unmoved, with the 32-year-old currently of the mind to stay at the club while monitoring the situation as it develops. If Baines is signed then the Frenchman would consider a return to Monaco, his club for four years until his £5.5m move to United in 2006.
Moyes's first official day in charge is on Monday ahead of his new squad starting pre-season on Wednesday. With Wayne Rooney this weekend attending the Glastonbury festival – where he may bump into Baines who is also there – and Moyes having been away this week on holiday, the two are yet to meet for their first serious discussion on the striker's future. Rooney became unsettled last season due to patchy form and Ferguson's decision to play him out of position and drop him for key games.
Baines's manager at Everton, Roberto Martínez, hopes to start assembling his backroom staff in the wake of the impending exit of the assistant manager Steve Round, goalkeeping coach Chris Woods, Robbie Cooke, the chief scout, and possibly first-team coach Jimmy Lumsden – all of whom should join Moyes at United.
"For Roberto to bring in his team is absolutely what he wants to do and we want to support him on that," Robert Elston, the Everton chief executive, told evertonTV. "We are working hard to do that and I'm hoping in the near future that Roberto will have his team. He is also integrating into a very strong, solid team that already exists here. There is a real spirit at Finch Farm and a lot of experience. I know he will want to retain that Everton spirit but yes, he does want his own support team around him. We are working to make that happen and I'm sure we will succeed on that in the very near future."
Elstone hinted at the impending departures. "Whoever ultimately moves on to new pastures goes with our best wishes and our thanks for all their contribution they have made to Everton football club," he said.