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Chelsea and Manchester United enter race to sign Ross Barkley

Tottenham may need to get their act together if they want to land the Toffees midfielder

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The future of Ross Barkley looks no clearer amid reports Chelsea and Manchester United have entered the race to sign him.

Several papers including the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Times claim United and Chelsea are monitoring the situation should a rumoured move to Tottenham fall through.

Tottenham have been playing the waiting game this summer in an attempt to force Everton’s £50m down.

Should Chelsea and Man United also show firm interest then that could force Spurs to act and spark a bidding war, strengthening Everton’s hand.

Barkley is said to have been “furious” at reports he had demanded £150,000 a week to move to Spurs - wages that would have made him the top earner above the likes of Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris.

Barkley’s response, made via several reporters (read: his agent), is a rare glimpse into the mind of the midfielder, who has remained silent on the issue of his future, even if the void created by that silence has been filled by scurrilous rumour.

That silence has made trying to decipher Barkley’s next move extremely difficult.

What we do know is that there is an offer on the table from Everton that remains unsigned.

Everton have to take their fair share of the responsibility for this saga. By failing to act sooner and letting his contract run down Everton have allowed the power to shift into the hands of Barkley’s agent.

Now Barkley is into the last year of his contract he – or his agent – can threaten to wind his deal down and leave for free next year.

Everton have backed themselves into a corner and both the agents and rival clubs know it. In response a game of brinkmanship has begun which is likely to drag on right until the deadline.

Some handy detective work from the Borneo Blues Twitter account revealed that Barkley’s agent is Paul Martin of Wasserman Media Group.

Martin is/was also the agent for John Stones, Joleon Lescott and Jack Rodwell, who as you all know left Goodison Park for big money fees.

To counter that Martin also represented Landon Donovan and Tim Cahill, but there is no doubt he has previous when it comes to moving players on from Merseyside.

As mentioned the radio silence from Barkley means it is difficult to understand what he is thinking.

One argument is that he is leaving his future purely down to his agent, which perhaps explains why he is seemingly being edged towards the exit door.

It would certainly be the most logical explanation given most supporters cannot understand why Barkley would want to leave his boyhood club.

Tottenham have looked the most likely club to sign Barkley but he is unlikely to be a regular. If playing first-team football every week is the main reason to leave Everton then jumping ship to Spurs is leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Chelsea and Manchester United have now been mentioned as possible suitors but again he is unlikely to play regularly.

His apparent fury at the story regarding his wage demands suggests money isn’t the issue either, so what is?

It would make more sense if Everton were struggling or couldn’t fulfil Barkley’s short-term ambitions – like when Wayne Rooney quit in 2004 with the club on its knees and crippled by debt.

But the future of the Toffees has never looked brighter, with significant investment both on and off the pitch.

As a boyhood Blue surely now is the time to stick around, at least for a few years, to see where it takes him?

Another theory for Barkley’s apparent desire to leave is a falling out – or at least clash of personality – with Ronald Koeman.

While his predecessor Roberto Martinez lavished Barkley with praise, Koeman has been brutally pragmatic.

The Dutchman dropped Barkley twice last season and bluntly told him on more than one occasions that his productivity needed to improve.

It may well be that Barkley didn’t take kindly to such cold treatment, even though it appeared to spark a response from the 23-year-old in the season run-in.

Koeman’s no-nonsense approach with Barkley has been praised by the majority of the supporters. While we view the Barkley situation through blue-tinted spectacles Koeman is free of sentiment.

In cold, footballing terms the Dutchman demanded more of Barkley. And when he didn’t deliver Koeman went out and bought players he hopes will.

There’s certainly still a place for Barkley in the squad and in the hearts of Evertonians who want one of their own to stay.

But with this saga threatening to spill over and overshadow the start of the season, the supporters are perhaps just keener for the situation to be resolved one way or another.