Ronald Koeman has finally admitted that Ross Barkley may not be at Everton next year.
The Mirror are reporting that with both Manchester clubs, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Chelsea interested, the Toffees would like to keep the England international but are aware he may well choose to move on.
By the summer, the midfielder will have just a year left on his contract. Goodison chiefs are in the process of trying to convince him to stay, but Koeman isn’t naive and knows how football works.
“I think every situation is different. Ross is a boy from Everton and what we need to show him is the best reasons to stay,” he said.
“Of course his situation is different because Ross is running out next year in the last year of his contract. Normally you make decisions at the end of the season, and you need to sign a new contract or you sell the player.”
Like Everton more generally, Barkley has really started to come into his own in the last few months and earned an England recall from Gareth Southgate.
The key problem for the Blues is that until Romelu Lukaku commits his future to the club, none of the other players will know exactly how much ambition they have and whether they’re going to fulfil the potential they’ve been showing this season.
Several of the Premier League’s top clubs would have good motives for going all out to sign Barkley.
Chelsea need more homegrown players, while Tottenham are short in that area due to Erik Lamela’s injury woes and the failure of Moussa Sissoko to make any real impact in north London.
As for Man United and City, they are looking for replacements for Wayne Rooney and Yaya Toure respectively.
It all puts Barkley in a fantastic position, whether he wants to use his new-found prestige as a bargaining tool to sign a new contract, or move to a Champions League club.