Top-4 finish over Cup wins to keep talents, says Martinez

LONDON • Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes that the club must prioritise a Champions League berth ahead of winning Cup competitions if they are to keep their talented young players at Goodison Park.

Everton faced Manchester City in the first leg of their Capital Cup semi-final yesterday, and while Martinez would love to bring the club their first major trophy since 1995, he believes a top-four league finish and qualifying for the Champions League would have a bigger impact in the long run.

"I don't think winning a Cup will keep the young players. I think qualifying for the Champions' League could help to keep young players," said the Spaniard, who took charge in 2013.

Everton are 11th in the league with 27 points - nine points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.

Striker Romelu Lukaku is currently joint top scorer in the league with 15 goals, and the club have had to fend off interest in emerging English talents John Stones, 21, and Ross Barkley, 22.

"Three years ago it was a very experienced team who knew how to win games, but we had some sort of ceiling," said Martinez, whose side take on Dagenham and Redbridge in the FA Cup on Saturday before resuming league action against City.

"Now we have gone very young with immense potential to go beyond that ceiling, and there has been investment in that potential so we will get the rewards from it.

"There are no financial decisions that will dictate what this squad needs. I wouldn't say I don't want to win silverware, because that is what this club is about and our aim is to have that drive and ambition to do that, but the aim is get into the top four, and that is what we have set out to achieve."

The Spaniard also plans to keep Kevin Mirallas at Goodison Park, insisting he is not open to selling the midfielder in January despite the Belgium international playing only a bit-part role in the first half of the season.

The 28-year-old has made only two starts in 10 Premier League appearances so far this campaign.

He has been linked with a move away in the transfer window as he seeks more first-team action ahead of the European Championship finals in France, with French side Monaco interested in signing the winger, according to media reports.

"I expect Kevin to have a major influence in the second half of the season," Martinez said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Top-4 finish over Cup wins to keep talents, says Martinez'. Print Edition | Subscribe