Everton’s main source of controversy this season in terms of potential departures has, of course, been the saga of Romelu Lukaku. However, Ross Barkley has even less time remaining on his contract, and Ronald Koeman is becoming more and more impatient for the young star to make a decision about his future:
I think if you need so much time then you have doubts. There's still one week. Time for him to decide. The board has been working a long time to ensure Ross stays for a longer period and it's up to the player but we don't wait until August.
Before next weekend we need an answer. We need a decision or we will sell the player.
It’s unclear if Barkley has been officially offered a new contract by the club or not, but either way, Koeman makes it sound like Ross has one more week to decide whether or not he’d like to continue playing at Goodison Park. That’s a startlingly hard line from the Blues’ manager, particularly for a player that Everton desperately need in the side for next season.
It’s a tricky situation. If Barkley does want to move on, there’s no clear destination in terms of a) a bigger club than Everton that b) could also offer consistent playing time.
Merseyside born and bred, Everton will have a hard time getting a transfer fee for Barkley that fairly represents his value to the club, both on and off the pitch. He’s had an excellent season playing largely on the right side of Koeman’s attack, particularly when Seamus Coleman was healthy, but with only a year left on his deal, there will be suitors.
Barkley still struggles with poor shooting decisions, and tries to do too much with the ball at his feet:
Ross Barkley, Everton 16-17. Conclusions may be drawn by people who are not me pic.twitter.com/L0NhJx7TzI— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) May 3, 2017
However, his creative numbers are up there with some of the best players in the Premier League this season, and that’s in a side that lacks creative quality.
Expected Assist Table (not inc tonight's game) pic.twitter.com/PYXUmdfMTr— Paul Riley (@footballfactman) May 1, 2017
It’s encouraging that Ronald Koeman refuses to be held hostage by individual contract situations, but Everton need to step up their efforts to retain Ross Barkley. The Blues can’t afford to rebuild on the fly as they head into Europe, and they can’t afford to lose one of the side’s main creative influences with the future of Lukaku up in the air, too.
Under almost any circumstance, a sale of Barkley would set the club back, on and off the pitch.