By support

21st May, 2017 | 2:22pm

Everton chief Koeman reveals decision behind 23-year-old axe v Arsenal

By Matt Farr

Ronald Koeman insists his decision to axe Ross Barkley from his Everton starting eleven to face Arsenal is purely ‘tactical’.

The 23-year-old was dropped to the Everton bench for their final Premier League match of the season, with attacker Enner Valencia returning to the starting eleven in his place.

BBC journalist Jonathan Legard had quoted on his personal Twitter account on Sunday afternoon that Koeman’s decision on Barkley was for ‘tactical’ reasons.

This is the second time in the space of just three games that Barkley has started on the bench for Everton, having previously been an ever-present member of the first-team squad.

The England international has scored six goals and supplied nine assists from his 38 appearances in all competitions this season.

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However, Everton fans will of course be concerned that Barkley’s axe from the starting eleven is linked with the ongoing uncertainty over his future at Goodison Park.

Barkley has just one year left to run on his current contract, and negotiations over an extended deal have stalled.

Koeman remains keen for the midfielder to commit his future to the club, but with Barkley yet to put pen-to-paper, the Dutchman has warned the player he will be sold this summer if he doesn’t sign a new deal.

Ecuador attacker Valencia is instead preferred for what could be his last appearance in a Toffees’ shirt, with his loan spell from West Ham set to expire at the end of the season.

Everton have already secured a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League, but they will be keen to end the season on a high note, having won only one of their last four league games.

In other Everton news, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes it is ‘possible’ for Everton to sign this Premier League attacker.

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