Roberto Martinez confident he can hold starlets in January window

‘I have no worries about attracting attention, because that’s what you want’

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring against West Ham with Ross Barkley. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring against West Ham with Ross Barkley. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

 

Roberto Martinez insists he has no concerns about his young Everton stars being targeted by other clubs in January.

Striker Romelu Lukaku, who has scored nine goals this season, is reportedly on the radar of Juventus and Paris St Germain while defender John Stones is likely to be top of Chelsea’s transfer wish list again.

But Goodison boss Martinez said: “What I don’t like is teams looking at our squad and nobody is interested, and nobody feels we have got good players.

“We worked really hard in the last six transfer windows to assemble a very strong squad with a real determination to bring in young players with world-class talent, and that’s what we’ve done.

“When you look at players like Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku, John Stones, Ross Barkley, they are very young players and they work to develop, to become important, to enjoy their football, and then we are going to benefit as a football club.

“So I have no worries about attracting attention, because that’s what you want. If you sign players and no one thinks they are doing well then you have a big, big problem.”

Lukaku stretched his goalscoring streak against West Ham to seven consecutive matches to secure a 1-1 draw on Saturday after Manuel Lanzini had fired the Hammers into the lead.

Stones, meanwhile, put in a superb display as he marshalled an inexperienced defence shorn of the injured Leighton Baines, Bryan Oviedo and Phil Jagielka, among others.

“It was a really interesting challenge for John, it wasn’t just about defending and doing his job well, it was about leading the back four with five defenders injured,” added Martinez.

“I thought John set the tone and he was immense, in the manner that you have to defend a striker like Andy Carroll and then take the responsibility in the way he started the play, I thought it was a magnificent performance.”

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, a centre-half for both teams during his playing days, is also a fully paid-up member of the Stones fan club.

“I like Stones — I watched one game when Everton played at Newcastle a couple of years ago,” said Bilic. “He was at centre-half, and he was 20 or so, and he was magnificent.

“So good, so calm, such composure with the ball. On Saturday he did really well against Andy Carroll. He is definitely a quality player. ”

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