Everton latest: Loan stars linked with exits as Howard replacement lined up

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Everton boss Roberto Martinez has played down speculation regarding the possibility of Gareth Barry moving to Arsenal at the end of the season.

The midfielder is currently on loan with the Toffees from Manchester City, but his impressive displays under Martinez have reportedly attracted the interest of the Gunners, and Martinez has insisted that Barry is simply enjoying his football on Merseyside and that any move away is “hypothetical”.

"I enjoy working with him and I still think he's the best English player in that position and I'm just glad he's been able to show that at Everton, which could have a massive effect on him internationally. I'm glad there is talk because it means Gareth has been performing really well and there will be other options for him there. I still think the best for Everton and Gareth is to come," said Martinez.

"It's a hypothetical situation. All that matters is Gareth is fully fit, enjoying his football and being an important player at Everton Football Club. That's what we are enjoying at the moment. Everything else is not a concern at this time. He was sensational at the weekend."

Another loan player whose future could lie away from Goodison Park is striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian international, currently on loan from Chelsea for the season, has been a star under Martinez this season, scoring nine goals in 20 Premier League games, but ultimately sees his future with a Champions League club.

Lukaku may still leave Stamford Bridge permanently, but told Belgian press; “It is high time that I play in the Champions League. It is the next step I need in my development. Full stop.”

Everton would need to break into the top four to even have a chance of keeping Lukaku long-term, but even then, there will likely be bigger clubs targeting his signature.

Meanwhile, Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas is reportedly a target for Martinez, with Spanish press suggesting that the Costa Rican international would arrive on Merseyside and replace long-serving goalkeeper Tim Howard between the sticks. A number of other clubs are supposedly eyeing a move for Navas, but Martinez is allegedly formulating a plan to bid for the stopper in the summer.

 

image: © Erik Daniel Drost

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