Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he has chairman Bill Kenwright’s backing to resist any January bids for Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines.
Manchester United have been linked with a 50 million pound offer for midfielder Barkley, and are widely expected to make an approach for left-back Baines after having three bids rejected during the summer.
Martinez has indicated that he is looking to strengthen his squad in January, but has made clear that he does not need to sell his best players to fund signings.
Asked if he had the support of Kenwright to resist any offers for Barkley or Baines, Everton’s manager said: “Yes. Absolutely. Not even a doubt. I have said many times that in football you can’t fight the trend of the game -- but what you can dictate is the timing and everything you do should be for the good of the club.
“Everything that happens needs to be done in order to improve the squad, to give it a longer-term benefit. It has to be a football decision. I can guarantee that will be the case in January 100 percent.”
Martinez laughed off the prospect of a 50 million bid for Barkley by suggesting that would only be enough to take the 20-year-old on loan.
He joked: “Fifty million? We wouldn’t let anyone out on loan in January. We are in a strong position financially. When you have to bring in money, then it can be a real difficult position as you can be anxious and frustrated.
“When you have to make financial decisions the squad will not benefit but when you make football decisions then you are in a strong position. If we can, we are going to add a couple of new faces and make sure we are stronger when the window closes.”
Martinez said there was no rush to sort out a new contract for Barkley, whose current deal runs to June 2016.
“He’s got a long-term contract,” Martinez said. “His role in the team has changed, and over the first half of the season, it has been a real joy to see him progress.
“The second half of the season is going to be even better for him, and we will reward that at the right time.”
Baines, 29, is out of contract in June 2015, but Martinez said there was still nothing to report on a potential new deal for the defender.
“It’s nothing to comment on,” he said. “The stability we have from a financial point of view allows us to make football decisions and this January window is important for us to make sure we kick on and finish stronger than we started.”
Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Southampton moved Everton into fourth place. They will be looking to maintain their grip on a Champions League spot when they travel to face Stoke on New Year’s Day.
Centre-back Sylvain Distin is set to shrug off a hamstring complaint to play, while goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder Gareth Barry are available to return after serving one-match suspensions.
Captain Phil Jagielka will be out until late January with the hamstring injury he suffered towards the end of the 1-0 defeat at home to Sunderland on Boxing Day.