Ronald Koeman has stated that he believes Ross Barkley will leave Everton during this summer transfer window.
Speaking to the assembled media at Finch Farm ahead of Thursday nights Europa League tie with MFK Ruzomberok, Koeman said: “His (Barkley’s) 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.
“So, OK he is not in Everton's future anymore. 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.”
Both club and player had been discussing a new deal for a number of months and with progress being made after the January transfer window where many believed Barkley would sign a new, bumper extension.
That hasn’t been the case.
Since then, Barkley’s future at Goodison Park has been in doubt but the player has remained quiet over his future. With the previous Premier League season coming to an end, further questions were asked to Koeman about Barkley where he simply responded that either Barkley signed a new deal or would be sold.
His stance hasn’t softened.
Once set to be the man
Barkley was set to be a pivotal part of Everton’s future after signing a contract extension back in 2014. Under Roberto Martinez, the midfielder was to be the Blues’ key man, linking midfield and attack.
But the midfielder has never really kicked on since that point. Arguments have been made that Barkley would be better suited further back in midfield - allowing him to be as dynamic as possible - not just pigeonholed behind a lone striker.
His lung bursting run and goal against Newcastle United in March of 2014 was the key contributor to that point but the midfielder has yet to since replicate that wonder goal.
Upon signing that contract back in 2014, Barkley said: “I’ve got a long way to go to be an Everton legend. Hopefully one day I am but I am just hoping to do everything right on the pitch and see how things go.”
So what’s changed? Nobody quite knows for sure.
The England international had seemingly found his feet under Koeman and looked set to return to being the player that broke through under Martinez but the overriding feeling that he was disposable to Koeman remained.
Now, Barkley looks set to leave Everton, another case of wasted potential that burned bright and quickly but hasn't burnt consistently enough to earn himself a place in Everton folk lore.
What’s next for both parties?
Everton are likely to ramp up their interest in Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and will make another bid for the influential midfielder. Koeman’s men have already had two bids north of £40 million rejected as the Swans also seek a £50 million pounds valuation for their main creative outlet.
Everton will keep their £50 million pounds valuation on Barkley but will have to be realistic to what fee they can expect to get for a player with 12 months left on his contract.
Barkley may prefer to stay in the North West and could opt for a move down the M62 to Manchester to join either City or Manchester United.
Joining City would mean Barkley would once be able to play alongside John Stones, something the pair have been interested in doing in some capacity since Stones left Everton for the Citizens.