For what feels like 18 months now, rumours have been floating around that Ross Barkley might move on from Everton. A boyhood Toffee, Barkley has always been seen as a formality to retain his place with the Blues and to sign on for years to come. With the hope that Ronald Koeman could unlock the class that had become so invisible under the drowning ship of Roberto Martinez, Evertonians must be exasperated at the lack of progress both as a player and on the contract side of things.
While in good form now, Barkley had frustrated for a few seasons at Goodison. Flashes of incredible quality would fall away for anonymous performances, or horrible tackling in the Merseyside Derbies. Unable to show an improvement in mentality or commitment since he first broke though, fears existed until recently that Barkley might never achieve what people expected he would.
However, his potential and the fact he’s a local lad meant most Evertonians would always want to keep a hold of the energetic playmaker. Now that he is finally beginning to show the form he always threatened to, however, fans are worried that he might move on and try his luck elsewhere. Talented Englishman are in short supply, and while Barkley has many rough edges he’d be a good choice for many Premier League clubs.
With just 12 months on his deal come June, Barkley has been a set of deadline of May to either sign a new deal or start looking for a new shirt to wear. With both Romelu Lukaku and now Barkley involved in contractual stand-offs, this summer could see Everton make some serious moves to start revamping and improving the squad that they have.
Contract demands have apparently not gone well for both players, and Everton are looking to force any ambiguity to be removed by setting a strict deadline for Barkley to respond by. If he does not, then it’s likely that he’ll be moved on in the summer, with some reluctance of course, alongside Lukaku.
Personally, it would be a shame to see Barkley move on. He’s an Evertonian and a talented player, and would be best served staying where he is most loved. He might take more flak than other Blues when his form dips, but it’s because Everton fans want nothing more than him to reach his (immense) potential.
Whatever happens, though, the time has come for Barkley to show he is maturing both on and off the park. His decision is going to go some way to helping determine his mental maturity.