The future of Ross Barkley as an Everton player looks less obvious this week following revelations that the player has been handed an ultimatum by the clubs manager, Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman appears to have lost patience with the England midfielder and his reluctance to sign a new deal so has given him until next weekend to sign or he will be sold in the summer. Koeman indicated in a recent press conference that the club has been in conversation with Barkley and his representatives about a new deal for some time now but its believed that the player is stalling as he surveys his options. With Tottenham rumoured to be interested, Barkley perhaps doesn’t want to sign anything that could close that door permanently.
With a year left on his deal, Everton need to either have the player sign a new long term deal or sell him in the summer to avoid losing him for free the following year. At 23 years old, Barkley is a rising talent and with that has seen his potential transfer valuation rise considerably to around $20m. Whilst now backed by a wealthy new owner, Everton are set up to be profitable and would not look kindly on waving goodbye to that type of money if Barkley was to exit on a bosman. In addition to this Barkley is viewed by Koeman as a player of immense quality who could play a big part in his team going forward. The former Holland defender who has been at Goodison since last summer is slowly building a side capable of challenging for firstly domestic honours and has all but secured a 7th place finish for Everton this season.
As part of his forward plans, Koeman has been securing some of his star players on longer term contracts including Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas who have signed new deals in recent weeks. in addition to this, Koeman has added a flurry of youth talents to his squad through either acquisition (Lookman, Holgate) or promotion from the clubs flourishing youth development system (Kenny, Davies, Calvert Lewin) which all bodes well for the future. In recent weeks he has also cemented his own future at the club despite rumours of interest from one of his former clubs, Barcelona who will be seeking a new manager in the summer with current boss Luis Enrique set to depart. Koeman acknowledged the rumour but distanced himself from the role stating that he had a job to finish at Everton.
As to what Barkley will decide to do is unknown but the player who came through the youth ranks at Everton is said to be happier now under Koeman than under previous boss Roberto Martinez. This is in part to Koeman giving Barkley more freedom to play his natural game and influence the direction of matches when he can. Not stuck to a specific position Barkley has regained his confidence and at times this season has demonstrated why many see him as a long term England star. Koeman has nurtured the player this year and at times has increased the pressure on him by openly criticizing his development to the media or dropping him for important games. To be fair it has been exactly what Barkley has needed in order to continue to grow as a player. But how Barkley himself has taken to the criticism and being dropped is uncertain. On one hand he may look at Koeman as someone who he can learn from and buy into the Dutchman’s vision of where he wants to take the club. But he could also see his expiring contract as an escape route to greener pastures and potential trophies which to date have eluded him at Everton. One thing is sure is that Barkley has a choice to make and he needs to make it quickly or Koeman and Everton may just make it for him.