Everton manager Marco Silva has played down speculation linking Idrissa Gana Gueye with a summer switch to Manchester United and remains hopeful of holding on to Kurt Zouma and Andre Gomes.
Gueye has been a regular under Silva this season but it has been reported in several outlets this week that the Senegal midfielder is wanted by new United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Silva, though, was phlegmatic when asked about the transfer rumour and any others that may come his way in the next couple of months, preferring instead to highlight Gueye’s contributions to the Toffees.
“It’s news to me,” he said. “(We have) no concerns about that or all the other speculation in the media that will come in the next few days or weeks.
“It’s something natural but I’m not here to answer all the possible rumours.
“What is important to me, if you’re asking about Gana, is how he’s performing well, how he’s helping our team with full focus, working hard every day to perform like he did in the last game.”
Zouma and Gomes are nearing the end of season-long loans from Chelsea and Barcelona respectively although the pair have impressed during their time at Goodison Park.
Asked if permanent deals are in the offing – and whether they could be completed before the end of the season – Silva replied: “There’s always a chance but it’s not something that is just in our hands.
“They are happy here which is a good sign, that means they are performing, they are enjoying and they are helping us.
“We are happy with them, it’s up to us to do what we can to keep them and it’s up to the clubs, also. And it’s up to them, it’s not just in our hands.
“It’s in the players’ minds and decisions after their own clubs. They have to decide together. In the right moment, we’ll do something.”
Zouma was singled out for praise by Silva, who believes the Frenchman is capable of becoming an elite centre-half.
Silva said: “I can see in him very good qualities to be a very, very good central defender. He is in the moment but he has all the conditions to improve to become a high-level central defender in my opinion.
“I’m happy with him but I’m the first one demanding from him to keep improving because he has the quality to do that.”
Everton have won their last three games without conceding, a run that has enhanced their hopes of a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League and a spot in next season’s Europa League.
Silva feels Everton should be regularly competing in Europe – despite only qualifying in two of the last eight seasons.
Ahead of this weekend’s fixture at already-relegated Fulham, the Portuguese added: “One of the things, looking to the future of our club, is we should be a club participating all the years in European football.
“Playing in European competitions is just a target, we know it’s not really easy as many clubs want the same but it’s something that has to be in our mind and has to be a goal for us.
“For us to achieve that we have to keep doing the right things, keep growing as a squad, prepare well to achieve that.”