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Koeman not confident Barkley will stay at Everton; “not worried” either

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One week ago Friday, Ronald Koeman reiterated Everton’s stance that Ross Barkley is still very much wanted at Goodison Park, provided he signs a new long-term contract soon — very soon… like, before-the-start-of-the-summer soon.

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With the 2016-17 Premier League season coming to close with Championship Sunday in less than 48 hours’ time, time is running out on the (loose) club-imposed deadline for Barkley to accept and sign the contract offered to him. Whether or not the 23-year-old opts to sign, Koeman wants everyone to believe he’s not bothered either way — quotes from the Guardian:

“Either he accepts the contract, or we sell the player.”

When then asked if he felt confident that Barkley would stay, Koeman said: “No, because it is a long time that he is thinking about his future. But I’m not worried because I like to work with players who like to stay. And it is not about his decision. We will go on. We are looking for players in that position. Even if he stays, there will be more competition for him next season.”

“If you offer a player a new contract, and a good contract, that means that you like to keep the player. I spoke to the player, the board spoke to the player and his agent. We need an answer after the weekend. I don’t know what will happen if he doesn’t give any answer about that.”

[ WATCH: Kane scores 4 to pass Lukaku in Golden Boot race ]

As Koeman says, Everton will either retain arguably their second-best player (Romelu Lukaku‘s future will likely turn into a protracted transfer saga as well), or they’ll cash in for a fee of around $30 million. The problem is, without UEFA Champions League football to offer incoming recruits, they’re unlikely to land a replacement of Barkley’s caliber.

VIDEO: Kane scores 4, takes charge in Golden Boot race (again)

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Harry Kane is having himself a(nother) season to remember — not bad for a so-called “one-season wonder,” is he? — and the 23-year-old had a night to remember on Thursday, as he bagged four of six goals in Tottenham Hotspur’s demolition of Leicester City.

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Harry’s haul erased a two-goal deficit to Romelu Lukaku in the race for the 2016-17 Premier League Golden Boot, and handed him a two-goal advantage heading into the final day of the PL season this weekend (despite the fact he’s played in seven fewer PL games this season, due to injury, than the big Belgian).

1. Harry Kane — 26 goals
2. Romelu Lukaku — 24
3. Alexis Sanchez — 23
4. Diego Costa — 20

[ RECAP: Kane gets 4, Son gets 2; Spurs increase record points total ]

If Kane holds off Lukaku on Sunday, he’ll become the first player since Robin Van Persie (2011-12 and 2012-13) to lead the PL in goals scored in consecutive seasons, and just the second to do so since Thierry Henry went back to back to back in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Koeman: Everton hope Barkley will stay; “It is up to the player”

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The contract stalemate between Ross Barkley and Everton is expected to reach its conclusion in the days between now and end of the Premier League season — or, so the club hopes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

With a handful of clubs interested in his services this summer (clubs that are able to pay the 23-year-old significantly more than Everton can do), the ball is 100 percent in Barkley’s court as he and he alone decides his immediate and long-term future. With a new contract already agreed with Everton (his current deal expires in just over 12 months’ time) but not yet signed, Barkley’s going to get paid either way.

Per Everton manager Ronald Koeman, the club’s official stance is still very much, “Please stay, Ross. Please.” Speaking after the Toffees’ 1-0 victory over Watford on Friday, Koeman was inevitably asked about Barkley’s contract situation — quotes from the BBC:

“I am really proud of the players’ record at home this season with 13 wins in the 19 games. We did not have the aggression and intensity in the first half, but we were better after the break.

“Ross’s goal is what we need, more goals from midfield. We hope that he will sign the contract, but it is not up to me, or the board, it is up to the player. We have offered Ross a really good contract. We cannot wait until the summer, until August.

“I am really happy. I think that we have had a really good season, finishing behind the big six in the Premier League. We need to do better away from home, but that is for next season.”

Everton 1-0 Watford: Goal for Barkley in his last game at Goodison?

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  • Barkley’s 5th goal this season broke the deadlock
  • Everton locked into 7th-place finish
  • Watford miss chance to go 10th, remain 15th

With their season two games from the finish line and virtually nothing to play for, you’d almost understand if Everton turned in a pair of subpar performances to close out the 2016-17 Premier League season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

On Friday, though, with Watford visiting in the final game at Goodison Park this season, Ronald Koeman‘s side cruised to victory courtesy of Ross Barkley‘s fifth goal of the season just 10 minutes after halftime.

Tom Davies forced Gomes into a difficult diving save in the 22nd minute, as the 18-year-old academy product fired from 25 yards out but Watford’s Brazilian no. 1 was quick to scramble across the face of goal and push the swerving ball wide.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Barkley, with constant speculation over his future at Everton ongoing, put his name into the headlines once again with a well-hit strike from 25 yards out in the 56th minute. The ball’s downward movement froze Gomes ever so slightly as it dipped and moved right to left before nestling itself into the inside netting.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Perhaps Everton should have been awarded a penalty not long after the hour mark, as Romelu Lukaku was taken down by Daryl Janmaat‘s sliding challenge in an attempt to win the ball. If Janmaat won the ball, the contact he made with it was ever so slight and simultaneous to contact with Lukaku.

The lone moment in which Joel Robles was called upon to preserve Everton’s lead came in the 87th minute, as the ball was played long and into the box, and M’Baye Niang blasted a shot toward goal from eight yards out. The Spanish goalkeeper was quick to react and dive to his right, making the save with his outstretched right hand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The result sees Everton, who can’t finish any higher or lower than seventh this season, cross the 60-point plateau as they reach 61 points for the first time in three seasons. Watford, meanwhile, would have gone 10 in the PL table with a win, but the defeat means they’ll spend another few days in 15th instead.

STREAM: Everton, Watford aim to snap skids

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Everton hopes to awaken its attack and end a three-match goalless run when it visits Watford at Goodison Park on Friday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on Premier League Extratime and online via NBCSports.com).

Watford hasn’t been better, losers of three-straight in PL play.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

LINEUPS

Everton: Joel, Baines, Jagielka, A. Williams, Holgate, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku. Subs: Hewelt, Kone, Barry, Valencia, Besic, Pennington, J. Williams.

Watford: Gomes (GK); Kabasele, Prödl, Mariappa; Janmaat, Doucouré, Behrami, Capoue, Holebas; Okaka, Deeney (C). Subs: Pantilimon (GK), Eleftheriou, Zúñiga, Watson, Amrabat, Success, Niang.