If you thought the departure of Romelu Lukaku from Everton over the summer was acrimonious, then Ross Barkley leaving the Toffees in the lurch will have you fuming. However, it’s not been all bad with the Wavertree-born lad in his fourteen years with the club.
Barkley ends his Everton tenure with 179 senior team appearances, scoring 27 times and picking up 28 assists. He had a further 28 games with the Under-23s, with 7 goals and 3 assists.
Here’s a look back at some of the good times, and some of the not-so-good over the years.
Born on December 5th 1993, Barkley joined the Everton youth setup when he was just 11 and immediately made an impression. He was playing for the Under-18s when he was still only 15 and made another jump up soon after.
He joined the Academy at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, and was named in a matchday squad thrice by David Moyes albeit as a sub when he was still only 16. Unfortunately for the youngster, he broke his leg in a horrific on-pitch accident when away with the England juniors and the year was wasted recuperating to full health.
Barkley came back stronger the next season and impressed during the preseason, and was handed the squad number ‘20’ but made just nine appearances and was on the bench seventeen times all season long for the seniors, spending more time with the Under-23s. He scored thrice and picked up three assists in 14 games in the Reserve Premier League, as the competition was known then.
The 2012-13 season was a hectic one for Ross, as he was loaned out twice, to Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United in the Championship, in a bid to get him more playing time. Overall, he played for the Blues just seven times in the Premier League while making 14 Championship appearances where he had 4 goals.
The hype had been building up for Barkley, and a few months shy of his 20th birthday he finally scored his first goal for Everton - on the opening day of the 2013-14 season in a 2-2 draw against Norwich City that resulted in him being named Man of the Match.
Barkley would go on to make 38 appearances for Everton that season in Roberto Martinez’s first year of tenure as central attacking midfielder, scoring seven times with three assists. He also made his England senior debut that season too, picking up the first of 22 caps.
To add to the accolades that season, Barkley was shortlisted in the PFA Young Player of the Year, but was beaten out by Eden Hazard. He then traveled to the 2014 World Cup as part of the England squad, and played in the third group game against Costa Rica.
Ross signed a new four-year contract with Everton to begin the 2014-15 season. He was starting to form a potent partnership with lead striker Lukaku, who had spent the previous year on loan and was bought outright from Chelsea as the Blues loaded up.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good year as the Blues struggled to balance the Europa League and domestic commitments under Martinez and Everton finished in 11th place. Barkley played 36 times that season with just two goals and three assists, missing the first two months of the season with a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury.
The 2015-16 season started off with a bang for Ross, scoring in both Premier League games to open the season in what would become his most productive year for the Blues. He played in every single Premier League game for Everton, as well as in ten EFL and FA Cup games, for a total of 48 appearances with 12 goals and 11 assists.
While the year ended badly with Martinez getting sacked and the Blues finishing 11th again but with two Cup semi-final appearances, and the stage was set for Barkley and Everton to have a big year in 2016-17 under Ronald Koeman.
The season started off very well for the Blues, but tensions between Koeman and Barkley continued to escalate throughout the year with the manager unhappy with the youngster’s work ethic.
Barkley would go on to score some memorable goals again, picking up six altogether with nine assists in 39 appearances. With his contract running down, there was some back-and-forth between the club and the player, ending with Koeman giving him an ultimatum that he would be sold over the summer of 2017 should he choose to not sign a new deal.
The Toffees ended the season in seventh place and qualified for the Europa League, and Farhad Moshiri went out and spent a bucketload of money to strengthen the squad over the summer. However, the year didn’t quite turn out the way fans had hoped, not for Barkley and not for Everton.
Ross ruptured his hamstring in training before the season started, and looked to be out for a few months. Then it appeared Everton had manged to sell him to Chelsea on deadline day, but for reasons unknown, the deal fell through and he returned to the Blues.
He has been recovering since that time with Sam Allardyce insisting that he is getting closer and closer to playing, but it appears Barkley was never interested in pulling on the royal blue kit again.
It’s a real shame that his vast potential remained unfulfilled at Everton, but what is worse is that the last one year and what has happened between the player, the club and the fans will have forever ruined whatever good faith there was before that.
Good luck Ross Barkley, and thank you for your time at Everton.