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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Rob Urbani @efc_roburbani

Roberto Martinez believes Marouane Fellaini's departure has enabled him to make Everton a stronger team.

The Belgium international departed Goodison minutes before the transfer deadline on Monday evening in a £27.5m deal with Manchester United.

His move followed a summer of widespread speculation over the midfielder's future - and was on the same day the Goodison chief acquired the services of James McCarthy for £13m from Wigan, Gareth Barry on loan from Manchester City and Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea.

The trio of arrivals followed the early summer signings of Joel Robles, Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu.

With Fellaini and Victor Anichebe - sold to West Brom - the only major outgoings, the Blues boss is satisfied the transfer window has shut with Everton boasting a stronger squad of players.

He told evertontv: "I’m sure that every Evertonian will have good memories of Marouane and that’s the way it should be. It has allowed us to improve the squad and make us a stronger team. It’s all been done in the right way.

"It’s important that we have closed the window and are stronger than what we were when it started. I know there has been a lot of talk in the press but when you have got performers and players there is going to be some interest (in our players)."

Leighton Baines is one of those players who has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move away from Goodison. But he remains an Everton player - and the manager is happy the window has now closed, bringing an end to the media attention.

He added: "From having interest to a situation where you have to consider a move is very, very different. Leighton is a very special footballer and a special player for Everton and we are looking forward to him enjoying the challenge that lies ahead.

"The window is over and there is a good opportunity to concentrate on football. That’s the way it should be. There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of speculation and now the reality is that we can concentrate on the games and we can concentrate on the future of Everton Football Club. That’s the only thing that matters."

The manager has also paid tribute to Fellaini for his service to Everton during his five years on Merseyside.

He concluded: "Marouane has been a top and consistent performer for us and he leaves Everton with our best wishes. We wish him the very best of luck. It was always the case when a club would match his valuation, he would be allowed to do that. There were a lot of wrong stories and a lot of talk and the truth is that the valuation was matched. Marouane was allowed to move on in his career and we are all happy to wish him well."

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