After a week when he made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and in both cases for being on the unfortunate end of different kinds of attacks, Ross Barkley is now being linked with a transfer rumour that seems quite preposterous.
British tabloid the Mirror are reporting that Manchester United could swoop in and buy Barkley this summer after the latest ultimatum from Everton manager Ronald Koeman in which the Dutchman has said in no uncertain terms that the player will be sold if he does not sign a new contract to extent his current deal which expires at the end of next season.
A couple of seasons ago, Chelsea were rebuffed after they put up a £35m offer for Barkley, with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright stating Barkley was going nowhere. Jose Mourinho was in charge at Stamford Bridge at the time, and could be responsible for driving the attempt this too.
Ross Barkley has created 77 chances in the PL this season - only Christian Eriksen (93) and Kevin De Bruyne (81) have created more. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) April 15, 2017
Koeman also said that Barkley had told him about his Champions League ambitions, with the manager responding that his best chance of making the competition lay with staying at Everton. And his comments made sense too, as we analyzed in this article.
The current iteration of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United team utilizes pacy wingers and a variation of the box to box midfielder theme, neither of which describes Ross Barkley.
Ross has had success operating on the wing this season, but lacks the speed of Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Jesse Lingard, as well as the defensive work rate of Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.
Then there’s also the small matter of United even qualifying for the Champions League. They are currently embroiled in a three-way struggle for two spots that allow them to play with the elite, and are about to have a fixture logjam with FA Cup and Europa League matches to come. Winning the aforementioned competition is another way to get into the Champions League, but that is also by no means assured.
As his heartfelt and emotional celebration on Saturday showed, Barkley still appears to have unfinished business at Everton. At some level, he is also in a position like star striker Romelu Lukaku is, where he wants to commit is future to the Toffees, but needs assurances that the club’s ambitions match his career targets.
To that end, Farhad Moshiri has completely turned the club around since he became the majority shareholder. A brand new state-of-the-art stadium beckons at the Docks, Koeman’s project is starting to grow a foundation, the youth teams are churning out players that look ready to take on the Premier League, and in all honesty the future for Everton has never looked brighter in the club’s accolade-filled 139-year history.
The player is widely adored by Toffees the world over. Koeman has reinvented him to the point where he’s becoming an effective right winger for the Blues but can still come back to the middle of the park and dictate play. His form in 2017 has been sparkling and earned him a recall to the England national side. Barkley is no longer a diamond in the rough thanks to the work Everton have put in him, and to throw that all away by languishing on another team’s bench would be almost criminally misguided.