Everton legend Graeme Sharp insists England star Wayne Rooney must not be sold to raise transfer cash.
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer
Rooney has been linked with £25m moves to Manchester United and Chelsea as Everton struggle with heavy debts.
Everton finished 17th in the Premiership but Sharp told BBC Sport: "I wouldn't touch any deal for him.
"He is an outstanding talent, just 18 years of age, and there is no guarantee that if you get money in for him it will go towards team-building."
Sharp added: "A lot will depend on how Wayne does at Euro 2004. If he has a good tournament the speculation about United, Chelsea and Arsenal will probably start again.
"I may be looking at this from a one-sided viewpoint but I would like to see him stay here.
"Wayne is a young lad who is still learning and you can look at Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball, who left Everton too early in my opinion, for whatever reasons and it hasn't worked out.
"I just wouldn't contemplate selling him. Wayne is a different character to those two but looking at Wayne's performances he has not been as consistent as in his first season.
"He has still got a lot to learn and hopefully he will continue to do that at Everton Football Club."
Sharp, a two-time title winner at Everton in the eighties, warned that the club's hierarchy needs to give manager David Moyes cash in the summer or face the serious threat of relegation next season.
He said: "This is a massive summer. The manager needs money and backing. It's not always the answer but in this case it is what is needed.
"He needs to bring new players in because many of the current ones have shown they are not up to the task of representing Everton Football Club.
"It's going to be difficult but I'm afraid he needs backing.
"I don't expect David to be a massive player in the market this summer but he wants to go places and hopefully he will be allowed to bring people in.
"The squad is not capable of progressing at Everton. The fans are restless and the board will see it as well.
"The fans know the club has been flirting with relegation and, take it from me, this season was a very close call."
Sharp added: "The club needs to be seen to be doing some transfer deals this summer.
"I'm afraid if we don't get an influx of new players in, next season will be a real struggle as well."