Everton have turned down a bid of £10 million from Manchester United for Leighton Baines and insisted that their left-back is “not for sale”.
It is thought that the Premier League champions will next go back in with an offer of around £12 million, with David Moyes determined to be reunited with his former player.
The bid, first revealed on Thursday afternoon by The Times, comes after almost 18 months of interest from United; Sir Alex Ferguson was an admirer of Baines and he is now wanted by old boss Moyes, under whom he played for six years at Goodison Park.
United felt that Baines would have ideally fitted their attacking style last summer but Everton wanted at least £18 million for the full-back and rejected three enquiries.
Old Trafford sources have said they were then unwilling to pay more than £15 million, and ultimately moved for Alexander Buttner from Vitesse Arnhem as a back-up option.
Although Everton are intent on getting proper value from any prospective deal for Baines once again, both the 28-year-old’s age and his contract will have driven the price down slightly.
Should he arrive, it is likely that Baines will initially rotate with Patrice Evra, with the France defender having reportedly suffered from an overload of games over the past five years.
Evra’s long-term plan, however, is to return to France with his family and Baines is seen by those at United as the long-term replacement.