The message from Koeman has been loud and simple: sign or leave. The response from Barkley and his camp, in contrast, has been quiet and confusing.
Earlier this season, those much closer to this than me were that this was mere posturing, just a negotiation tactic. That Barkley was settled in the northwest, and that he’d be staying. The silence from Barkley’s camp was just to get more money, so they said…
He still hasn’t signed.
In just eight months, January next year, Ross Barkley will be able to talk to other clubs and sign a pre-contract agreement. With the Lukaku deal the right money is there on the table, but the Belgian’s desire to stay at Everton perhaps isn’t. Could it be the opposite for Barkley? In all the fanfare about Lukaku’s contract and our collective desire for him to sign, have we inadvertently snubbed Ross?
This is the lad who has the date of his Everton debut tattooed on his arm. The lad who waited by Roberto Martinez’ office just to tell him how much he loved playing for Everton. The lad who when asked in the video below what his favourite Everton chant is, responds as a fan…
Have we taken this lad for granted? In rolling out the blue carpet for Rom and offering him the world, have we snubbed one of our own?
Not that everyone is a fan. Ross Barkley’s boots have been dipped in Marmite from the start. Moyes loved him, but couldn’t handle his talent…
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 8, 2010
Neil Warnock, manager of Leeds when Ross was on loan there, didn’t fancy him much, grumbling, “He has got super talent, but he can’t defend, he can’t take responsibility in his own half…you can’t give him any responsibility.”
Roberto Martinez drizzled him in praise (memorably telling Followtonians he’d choose Ross over Messi), but perhaps didn’t imbue him with enough discipline… Now Koeman has had a chance to coach Barkley, and the results have been encouraging. With a few exceptions, he’s playing well in games, imposing himself, and racking up those assists.
But there’s an impatience with Barkley, frustrations come to the surface quickly if he isn’t delivering. Even ex Evertonians have a pop at him… Leon Osman recently said,
“He’s been playing in the first-team since he was 17-18. That’s a long time to have been playing in the Premier League and not kicked on and not made that next step. It’s worrying that he’s still being talked about as a young player and ‘give him time’.”
His performance on Sunday against Leicester was typical of Barkley this season, an ambidextrous tearaway on the break, a supplier for Rom, and someone always asking for the ball. Clearly, his renewed focus under Koeman is paying dividends. But for 90 minutes every week, between the opening and closing bell, it is open season on Ross Barkley. Our diamond. England’s great white hope. The boy/man who should score more, assist more, track back more, dribble more, pass better, spend less time in the gym, think faster and stop looking so confused!
Ross Barkley’s form is monitored like the stock exchange. Is Leon Osman right? Should he be more consistent by now? Or are people looking at him with ridiculous expectations? He’s been great for us this season, hasn’t he? Can we really stomach Ross Barkley in a Spurs shirt?
The fact that Ross Barkley hasn’t yet renewed his contract with Everton is scary. Barkley’s team might well be playing on that fear to get him more money, but while losing Lukaku would be bad, losing Lukaku and Barkley would be disastrous.
Thirteen years ago we didn’t have the financial muscle to even try and tempt Rooney into staying. Now we have the means to keep Barkley.
Don’t go Ross. Don’t let him go Everton.
Premier League: Saturday 15 April (15:00); Burnley at Goodison
Saturday 22 April (15:00); West Ham at London Stadium