By Matt Farr
A host of Premier League clubs are set to be on high alert as Everton midfielder Ross Barkley is set to consider his options at the end of the season, according to a report.
The Daily Star claim that Barkley is expected to stall over his decision to sign a new long-term deal at Goodison Park, which could see him on the move in the summer.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all believed to be monitoring the 23-year-old’s ongoing situation, and are prepared to go head-to-head for what could become one of the summer’s most-coveted signatures.
Barkley, reportedly earning £65,000-per-week at Everton, will have just one year remaining on his current deal at the end of the season, and the club is keen to tie him down for the long-term.
They had earlier revealed that they were looking to open negotiations with the England international in the new year, but Barkley is now set to delay talks as he weighs up his options.
Despite being a key player for the Toffees under boss Koeman, the pair have had a somewhat rocky relationship.
The Dutchman has been quite critical of Barkley’s performances this season, particularly after he was omitted from Sam Allardyce’s England squad to face Slovakia back in September.
Barkley has not been best pleased with the manner of Koeman’s public criticism, which could add further fuel to the fire in the pending decision over his future.
The midfield ace has contributed five goals and five assists from 26 appearances this season in all competitions, and has twice been dropped by Koeman – for important games against Manchester City and Manchester United.
However, prior to making any decision on his future, Barkley is expected to take into account the improvements made by the club this season, which could see them challenging in Europe next term.
Football Insider verdict
On his day, Barkley would walk into most sides in the Premier League. There are inconsistencies in his performances, particularly this season, but Everton would be losing a huge talent if he were to quit the club in the summer. It would be a case of ‘one step forwards, two steps back’ (especially if Romelu Lukaku also leaves) in light of the progress and the signings made by K0eman since he took charge in the summer, and Barkley must be kept at all costs. He will improve, and while Koeman may not be 100% happy with him, patience is key. One way to look at it is that the criticism is encouragement for Barkley to go that extra-mile, and a sign that Koeman knows there is more quality in there. However, the Dutchman is not likely to shy away from the possibility of a big-money bid for his services, and although he shouldn’t do so, may be tempted to cash-in.
In other Everton transfer news, one of Barkley’s Everton team-mates his delivered his verdict on his own future at the club.