Everton manager David Moyes has vowed to do everything in his power to keep 18-year-old striker Wayne Rooney.
Rooney's stunning display for England at Euro 2004 has fuelled speculation he will leave Goodison Park this summer.
But Moyes responded in The People: "Tell me why I should give up on the best young player in Europe?
"I will fight to the very end to keep him at Goodison. Wayne would be within his rights to say 'I want to go' but he should give it a chance."
Everton have already offered Rooney a new five-year deal and have opened talks with his representatives.
And Moyes is determined to continue to protect the teenager and nurture his talents.
"Maybe Wayne shouldn't have it all too quickly," said Moyes.
"Maybe there should still be a carrot out there for him to keep chasing.
"To have it all too soon isn't always a good thing, especially when you're 18."
Chelsea and Real Madrid have been linked with a move for Rooney, but Manchester United is believed to the most likely destination if he decides to leave Goodison.
United director Sir Bobby Charlton claimed on Saturday that they are not planning to make a move for the player.
And United forward Louis Saha added: "We don't need another striker. Ruud (van Nistelrooy) and I can give the United fans something they haven't had since Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
"We also have Alan Smith, although he is a different type of striker, but it shows the options we have got in attack."
Moyes revealed he has his own incentive for Rooney - the chance to skipper the club he supported as a boy.
"It would be special for me if I could make Wayne captain of Everton," added Moyes.
"Maybe not now but in the next year or two, certainly by the time he is 20."
Moyes knows that selling Rooney, Everton's prize asset, would go a long way to improving the club's finances.
A lack of cash has prevented Moyes from boosting his squad this summer - striker Marcus Bent has been the only signing.
And Moyes admits that after finishing dangerously close to the relegation zone last season he faces a tough campaign.
"I'm probably facing my biggest challenge as a manager next season," said Moyes.
"I expected it to be difficult but not this tough and the uncertainty over Rooney and the finances at the club has just added to the problems.
"We are not a club in desperate trouble, just a club that needs a little bit of new investment to get back on track."