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.”
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.