Singapore: Everton manager Roberto Martinez has insisted that James McCarthy is not for sale following reports that Manchester City were preparing to make a bid for the Republic of Ireland international midfielder.
McCarthy was linked with the former Premier League champions after their failure to sign Aston Villa`s Fabian Delph. However Martinez, who worked with the player at Wigan Athletic before they both joined Everton two years ago, is determined to hold on to the young talent in his squad.
"He is not for sale," the Spaniard said of McCarthy at the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore on Wednesday.
"James McCarthy has been a top performer in the last few seasons and at the age of 24, he has already played over 300 games. He has young legs, brings a lot of energy and he is a vital part of our squad."
Martinez was speaking after his side beat Premier League rivals Stoke City 5-4 in a penalty shootout following a goalless draw at the National Stadium to set up a meeting in Saturday`s Asia Trophy final against Arsenal.
"It was a very interesting game for both sides," said the Everton boss. "It was more than a pre-season game because normally in pre-season you are looking for that physical aspect and we got that.
The heat and humidity had made conditions difficult, he said, but on top of that "I felt it was a really competitive game... To win the penalty shoot-out was a fantastic feeling and both teams played at a very good level.
"And nobody picked up any injuries, which is the best aspect of a game like this."
Despite the defeat, Stoke manager Mark Hughes was pleased with the performance of his side in their first match of the pre-season.
"I thought it was a very accomplished performance and a good workout," said the Welshman.
"Obviously the conditions were very difficult but I thought that the players coped very well. Individually and collectively we looked strong. It was good and everything seems to be working well.
"All in all, a very satisfying performance apart from the result."