Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says he would not sell England striker Callum Wilson “at any price”.
Cherries top scorer Wilson, who has hit nine Premier League goals this term, is reportedly a January transfer target for Chelsea, with rumours the Londoners are willing to pay a £50million fee.
The 26-year-old has re-established himself as an integral part of Howe’s team since returning from a second serious knee injury in October 2017.
“I’ve been told about the speculation, it’s not something I seek to read. It’s a waste of time for me to do so,” Howe said of Wilson at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Everton.
“It’s business as normal – Callum has been bright and bubbly this week, so no problems there.
“In my opinion – and it’s just my opinion – I wouldn’t sell at any price.
“But I’m the manager of the team, trying to create the best team that I can.
“We desperately want to take the team forward and to do that I think we’ve got to keep our best players.”
Former Coventry player Wilson was handed an England debut by Gareth Southgate in November, scoring in a 3-0 success against the United States at Wembley.
His remarkable rise to international football followed an injury nightmare which saw him rupture anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees, leading to two lengthy lay-offs.
He could miss this weekend’s clash with the Toffees due to a hamstring problem having also sat out last Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Brighton.
“He has unique attributes that really complement what we do here,” added Howe.
“He’s been a really good goalscorer for us this season, that’s the hardest thing to do in the sport so we value him really highly.”
Howe, meanwhile, refused to rule out strengthening his injury-hit squad further during the transfer window.
The Cherries last week splashed £19million to sign England striker Dominic Solanke from Liverpool, with right-back Nathaniel Clyne arriving on loan from Anfield on the same day.
Captain Simon Francis, right-back Adam Smith and England midfielder Lewis Cook are each sidelined for the foreseeable future due to knee issues, while new boy Solanke is currently unavailable for his debut because of a hamstring problem.
“I wouldn’t rule anything in or out in this transfer window,” said Howe on the subject of further deals.
“We’ve been forced to act this time due to injuries, so we’ll wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.”
Speaking about the arrivals of Clyne – who made his Bournemouth debut in the FA Cup – and Solanke, Howe added: “I was pleased to get our two deals over the line so quickly.
“We have some long-term injuries and they’re both big losses, so to fill the positions is very important to us.
“Nathaniel has settled in well. He’s trained very well and I was pleased with his performance last week.
“We haven’t seen Dominic in training just yet.”
In addition to a late fitness test for Wilson before the game at Goodison Park, Howe is also waiting on Ryan Fraser’s hamstring issue, while Joshua King is a doubt because of illness.