David Moyes received an angry rejection of his £28million bid for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines from Everton in a move that could anger supporters of both clubs.
The double bid valued Fellaini at £16million, a similar fee to that which Moyes originally paid Standard Liege in 2005, despite the fact that a £23.5million release clause in his contract expired at the end of last month and Everton boss Roberto Martinez confirmed last week that the club had rejected a £12million bid for Baines.
Moyes has already missed out on Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara this summer in attempts that frustrated United fans by being pursued for too long after they seemed feasible.
The United manager was also warned off attempting to pry Fellaini and Baines late in the summer as Toffees’ chairman Bill Kenwright confirmed he was not going to sell the pair unless the club’s value was met.
“I’ve not said to David [Moyes]: ‘David, come on.’ I’ve said exactly the opposite,” Kenwright said last month.
“I’ve said to David: ‘We all know the situation at Everton. We all know there’s a player who’s got an escape clause, but the others are not for sale.’
“I’m as in love with this football squad as any Evertonian out there. They are this club and we don’t want them to go.”
Moyes is desperate to strengthen his midfield but Martinez has said that there is little chance of him doing so by bringing Fellaini after waiting until August to express a firm interest.
“Marouane had a buy-out clause where it was very straightforward. If someone met that valuation, the club had no say,” Martinez said last week.
“That finished on July 31 so you can imagine during that period everyone was a bit expectant about what would happen. Once that date went, you just focus on working for the next season.”
Both players started for Everton in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Norwich and it appears increasingly unlikely that Moyes will be able to do any business with his former club after such a hostile response to a low bid for two of their star players.
Everton themselves are also interested in strengthening their midfield and are hoping Manchester City will agree to subsidise some of Gareth Barry’s £90,000 a week wages so that the midfielder can join up with the squad at Goodison Park.