Rafa Benitez says Everton are “not considering” selling Richarlison amid transfer speculation linking the Brazilian with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Everton manager also revealed the Club are “still looking” to add to their squad ahead of Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
Everton take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday (3pm BST) aiming to build on a promising start to the campaign – and Benitez added a final decision on the players available for the game will be made following the Blues’ training session on Friday afternoon ahead of their trip to the south coast.
The Spaniard confirmed “some players” who have been unable to feature in the Toffees’ first three games of the season will be in contention for selection – but Fabian Delph is definitely out with a shoulder injury.
Asked in his pre-match press conference about rumours suggesting PSG are interested in Richarlison, Benitez said: “We are not considering selling him.
"He is our player and we are really pleased with him, really happy.
“Hopefully he can score a lot of goals this season for us.”
On whether Everton could make any signings, he added: “Still, we have time, we are working on that until 31 August [transfer deadline day].
“We have plenty of time to try to do something.”
Several Everton players have missed the start of the 2021/22 campaign because they are self-isolating in line with COVID-19 protocols.
Benitez says he expects to have more options available for Saturday’s match but did not expand on the fitness status of specific players.
“We have some players coming back and still some we are missing,” he said.
“Delph has a problem with his shoulder and will not be available. He couldn’t be involved in the Carabao Cup game [Tuesday's 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town], and it was because of that.
“I will not [speak about] everyone.
“Still, we have a training session, so we will train later on, then we will fly, and we will have more information.”
See below for key points from the remainder of the manager’s press conference...
On how he would assess Everton’s start to the season…
It could be better, it could be worse. Overall, the reaction and commitment of the players, the desire, and sometimes the way we were playing, I am happy with that.
I know we have to improve things but at the same time I think everybody understands how difficult the transfer window is for us and how difficult the Financial Fair Play rules are for us.
And – with players who have been at the Olympic Games, the Euros, the Copa America – everything has been a little bit confused at the beginning, with a new manager, too.
So, I think we are doing well considering all these things and I am sure we will improve in a lot of issues.
At the moment, it is one step at a time and we have to be sure we have a strong team to play against Brighton.
On the resilience the team have shown in the opening three games of the campaign...
The fans can see that the team is trying their best until the last minute and, if something is wrong, we still carry on pushing and working hard.
I said before, we’ll have bad games, we’ll have problems and I will make mistakes with the substitutions, with the team selection or whatever...but I still want to see this spirit, commitment and desire because it will give us points during the season.
On the performances of Jarrad Branthwaite and Jonjoe Kenny at Huddersfield...
It’s good for them to play a competitive game. Also, I’m not very critical of players when they play these types of games because we make many changes and it’s difficult for them to perform at the level they can.
We know what they did well and not so well and we are working on that for the future.
I’m really pleased with the way that the team reacted [at Huddersfield] because it was not an easy game.
On the strong competition for places in his starting XI…
If you have players who can compete for the positions, it is good news for me, good news for the fans and for the Club in general.
If you have a competitive team, you have to make decisions. At the moment, it is just about choosing the right ones for this game but the others are ready.
I am also very happy with the way the players coming from the bench give us something.
All of them, in all the games, come into the game and produce good performances, in terms of intensity and spirit and also in terms of play.
So, I’m happy with the situation we are creating around team spirit and competition between players
On the test Brighton will provide…
They are a good team. They are playing with a lot of confidence and, as usual in Premier League, it will be a tough game.
They know each other really well. They are dangerous at set-pieces. They can pass the ball and they can keep possession.
They have some good players up front who have pace and ability.
It will be a tough game, and hopefully we can play in the same way that we have.
If we can be strong together, we can challenge and get a result.