Roberto Martínez insists Everton’s fruitful business relationship with Chelsea does not include a tacit agreement with the Stamford Bridge club over the futures of Ross Barkley or John Stones.
Everton concluded a third deal inside 12 months with Chelsea on Wednesday when Christian Atsu arrived at Goodison Park on a season-long loan. The two clubs arranged an identical deal for Romelu Lukaku last summer and finalised a permanent move for the Belgium international last month for an Everton record transfer fee of £28m.
For their part, Chelsea were interested in the rising young talents Barkley and Stones before the England pair signed new four- and five-year contracts respectively this summer. Those contracts, plus a new deal for Seamus Coleman, demonstrated Everton’s intent to build a young, Champions League-chasing squad under Martínez and the manager has insisted co-operation over Atsu and Lukaku will not enhance Chelsea’s prospects of one day acquiring his England internationals.
“Not at all,” said the Everton manager when asked if Chelsea wanted first option on Barkley and Stones during the transfer negotiations. “We have a good relationship and a professional relationship and I want to believe that Chelsea feel they can trust us in sending players out on loan. I don’t think that relationship goes any further.
“The chairman [Bill Kenwright] has been instrumental in forging that relationship more than anyone. He has developed that bridge between the two clubs and there is a possibility for both to use it in a good way, but there is no commitment of any sort on future deals.”
As was the case when Lukaku initially joined on loan, Everton do not have an option to sign Atsu on a permanent basis should his stay on Merseyside prove a success. “It is just an arrangement that suits all three parties,” said Martínez. “And we just hope he is a better player in 10 months’ time.”
Everton’s manager has monitored the 22-year-old, who impressed for Ghana at the World Cup in Brazil, since his emergence at Porto but admits the winger needs time to adapt to what will be his first Premier League campaign following a season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem. “Christian hasn’t played in the Premier League before so needs an adaptation period but because he has been working with an English club I feel that period will be shorter.
“He is a penetrating player, you want to see him involved with the ball, and, unusually for a winger his link-up play with his team-mates is very good. I saw good signs when he came through at Porto and now he is a young man with incredible experience after the World Cup.”
Atsu’s move to Goodison was in doubt a fortnight ago but the winger denies that concern over the amount of games he will play was the complication. “Nobody has promised me that I will play in any games,” said the winger. “I spoke with the manager here and he didn’t tell me that if I come to Everton I will play straight away. I know everything depends on me.”
The player has to work hard before the manager can choose him. There was no guaranteed playing time.”
The Ghanaian is the latest of many young players to be farmed out on loan by Chelsea, but he insists he can have a future at Stamford Bridge under José Mourinho.
“It’s not impossible to break through at Chelsea,” said Atsu. “For me, everything is possible. I have to work hard in everything, to get more playing time here at Everton, prove myself and also move the team forward.
“I also made the decision to go out on loan. I spoke with the manager [Mourinho] and said I think it is best I get some experience on loan. The Chelsea manager supported me. It was a decision we all made together. For me it is the best option.”
Martínez, meanwhile, remains in the market for another striker and is interested in re-signing Lacina Traoré on loan, although Monaco want an inflated permanent fee for the Ivory Coast international.