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 By Mike Whalley

Martinez dismisses Barkley rumour

LIVERPOOL -- Everton manager Roberto Martinez has laughed off the idea of midfielder Ross Barkley moving to city rivals Liverpool.

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A report in the Daily Star on Tuesday morning suggested that Brendan Rodgers was considering an offer of 38 million pounds for the England international, but Martinez insists there is no chance of such a deal happening.

Liverpool-born Barkley, a boyhood Everton fan who graduated from the club’s youth set-up, has attracted plenty of attention since establishing himself as a Premier League regular this season.

Martinez has stated more than once that the club have no intention of selling the 20-year-old, having dismissed suggestions earlier this season that Manchester United were in talks over a deal worth 50 million pounds.

The manager said: “According to speculation, we have already turned down a 50 million pound bid from United, so we’re not going to take 38 million pounds from Liverpool.

“I think it’s quite enjoyable to speak about speculation. It shows how well our players are doing. Those are the type of football compliments we want all the way.”

Barkley, who played 32 minutes as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Sunderland, will be pushing for a return to the starting lineup on Wednesday as Everton host Crystal Palace and seek an eighth successive Premier League win.

That run of victories has moved Martinez’s side into the fourth and final Champions League qualification place, above Arsenal, who are at home to West Ham on Tuesday.

The manager insists that securing a top-four finish is his immediate priority, playing down suggestions that he was chasing a three million pound deal for Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia.

However, he acknowledged that he was on the lookout for new signings ahead of the summer transfer window.

He said: “As you can imagine, we’re well advanced in our search for talent and for characters who can help our dressing room. We always do that from window to window, but I think the names coming out in the press are far, far away from the targets we have at the moment.

“The only thing I’m focused on is the next five games. The recruitment and scouting side is always busy behind the scenes, and that will never change.

“And the biggest source of recruitment, believe me, is at home. I’m really excited by the young players the academy are producing.

“We’ll bring players in to help those we have in the squad but, as you can see, our squad is young, we’ve brought on incredible new fresh blood, and what we want to do now is develop it, keep it together and get the best of the dressing room that we have. It’s quite special.”

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