David Moyes is hoping that Patrick van Aanholt can be as influential for his Sunderland side as Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines were for his successful Everton outfit.
Sunderland have rejected two offers for the Dutchman, one of which was from Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace.
The Eagles have since signed Jeffrey Schlupp from Leicester, but interest is likely to persist from elsewhere in the club’s joint second-top goalscorer.
Whilst conceding that every player has his price, Moyes underlined van Aanholt’s importance.
He said: “At the moment, I need him, he’s one of my better players. He’s won us games, so I have to keep using him.
“I think people can make offers, but we’re the club who hold the contracts of the players and we’re the ones who say yes or no. All we’ve said is no for numerous reasons.
“He is more attacking, which I like, I like my full-backs attacking, I had Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman who were terrific for me, I like my full-backs to make goals and score goals, Pat does that.
“Obviously we’re asked to defend a lot with not having the ball, we need a left-back who can fulfil their defensive duties as well.”
If Sunderland were to sell the 26-year-old, they could expect to make a signficant profit – he cost just £1.5million from Chelsea in 2014.
He recently signed a deal to keep him at the club until 2020 and has been one of Sunderland’s best players in a difficult season.
However, his manager thinks there is more to come and that his value could rise even further in the coming years.
Key to that will be ensuring he continues to improve the defensive side of his game, which has not always been a strong point in his time on Wearside. Quick, creative and with an eye for goal, his attacking contributions have often outweighed his defensive ones.
Moyes says that is an area he and his team continue to work on. He said: “Patrick can improve. We’ve worked a lot on him since we came in, getting him correctly positioned defensively. Attacking wise, he’s got his own bit of freedom in how he goes and develops and sometimes you see him and wonder how he’s got there, but many times, like the Watford goal, to get in the six-yard box as a left-back was terrific.
“But then there’s quite a lot of occasions where we’re saying, ‘Why are you not defending the back post?’ ‘What’s your positioning like, you’re not getting out to stop crosses quick enough’. So there is another side to it as well.”
Moyes also revealed that the club has received bids for a number of players, all of which have been knocked back.
He said: “We’ve had offers for a few players and we’ve listened to them. Some we have had to reply to, and others we have not bothered with, but we want to keep our squad and add to it.
“Every player has a price somewhere down the line, but we need to add to our squad rather than let people go.”