Ross Barkley ‘wants new challenge and will leave Everton’
Ronald Koeman says 23-year-old midfielder turned down €112,000 a week contract
Ross Barkley: Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are interested in the England international. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are interested in the England international and will have been put on alert by the Everton manager’s unequivocal statement on Wednesday. Koeman claimed he was informed by Barkley at the end of last season that the player would not sign a new contract worth more than £100,000 (€112,000) a week with his boyhood club. Asked if he expected the 23-year-old to leave the Dutchman replied: “Yes, 100 per cent.”
Koeman wants three more signings – Gylfi Sigurdsson, a striker (Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud is in the frame) and defensive cover for the injured Ramiro Funes Mori – and said further spending was not dependent on money raised from Barkley.
Spurs have a long-held interest in Barkley and are monitoring developments in the hope Everton drop their £50 million (€56m) asking price for a player who is out of contract next summer. Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, is also reluctant to pay Barkley £100,000 a week. A move to White Hart Lane on Levy’s terms would indicate that Barkley’s strained relationship with Koeman – and not the money on offer at Everton – influenced his decision to pursue a fresh start.
Barkley is believed to be open to a transfer to Old Trafford although United’s interest is not thought to be as strong as Tottenham’s. Everton, who host MFK Ruzomberok in the Europa League third round qualifying first leg on Thursday night, will welcome a bidding war for their homegrown talent. Arsenal have also been linked with a player who is recovering from minor groin surgery. His future is unlikely to be resolved until late in the transfer window.
Koeman said: “He had his groin surgery last week and it will take three or four weeks to be back. His personal situation is not so difficult. We made a really good offer to him to sign a new contract, he declined that contract and told me that he is looking for a new challenge. Okay, he is not in Everton’s future any more. It is his decision. I need to respect that and see what happens. What I heard from the board at the moment is that there is no offer on the table for Ross.”
The Everton manager added: “It is really clear. I am looking to other players. They are my priority and not Ross, with all respect, because it is his decision. Everybody knows what the situation is. He told me at the end of last season. He has one more year on his contract and we work with respectful people. And after his surgery, if he is back for training, he will be part of the first-team sessions.”
Everton have embarked on an extensive and expensive recruitment drive and remain hopeful of striking a deal for Sigurdsson despite Swansea City’s insistence on £50m for the Iceland international.
Koeman said of his other targets: “We have lost Funes Mori to a knee injury [for six to nine months] and I am looking to replace him. We lost Romelu Lukaku and brought in Sandro Ramírez but we are trying to sign another striker.”
The club have spent almost £100 million (€112m) on signings but Koeman insisted he did not need to sell Barkley to fund further purchases.
“It is not about Ross,” he said. “We did really good work and I didn’t expect to get all the players in before tomorrow; some need more time and that’s all about business. I’m still not nervous and we have time but we have enough new players in.”
As for the identity of a potential new striker, Koeman said: “I know which one I like but it’s difficult.”
Everton’s manager is also adamant that Gareth Barry will remain at the club despite interest from West Bromwich Albion.
– (Guardian Service)