Ross Barkley is at an Everton crossroads
If you believe Ronald Koeman, Everton aren’t willing to discuss contract terms with Ross Barkley any longer. He can either sign the deal the club currently have in front of him, or else he’ll be sold to the highest bidder this summer.
Koeman revealed the club’s stance after Barkley’s stellar performance in the 4-2 comeback victory over Leicester City. Per the Toffees manager, his midfielder’s current contract situation is “not so difficult.” You’ll have to forgive fans at Goodison Park if they aren’t exactly comforted by their manager’s assessment of the situation.
Don’t forget, Barkley isn’t some player who just happened to show up at Everton by happenstance. He grew up a fan of the club. That fact might not mean much to some officials at the club, but it surely means a lot to their passionate fan base. Players of his ability who have a sincere affection for Everton in their hearts don’t exactly grow on trees.
On the other hand, Koeman is a successful manager due, in part, to his ability to view any situation with icy logic. He won’t be swayed in the slightest by what club Barkley grew up supporting. For Koeman, the question of whether or not to hang on to his midfielder is purely a math problem.
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If Barkley is willing to sign a contract at or below his market value to Everton, then Koeman will be delighted to have him back in the squad. The rub is that we don’t know what that figure truly is. It’s possible that Koeman’s frosty relationship with Barkley has caused the club to undervalue him relative to the rest of the Premier League.
If that’s the case, then Barkley will refuse to sign the new deal. If that happens, Koeman understands that economics dictate that he must sell the player this summer. Barkley only has one year left on his current contract. This summer represents the club’s last chance to sell him for a substantial transfer fee.
In my estimation, Ronald Koeman is leading Everton into a dangerous game of chicken. They can’t afford to lose Ross Barkley over a few thousand pounds. Unfortunately, Koeman’s cold sense of logic may cost Everton a player who truly grew up a fan of the Toffees.