By Dan Tracey
Everton’s first season under Ronald Koeman must undoubtedly be qualified as a success but the task is now trying to not only keep pace with the six clubs that finished above them but also try and bridge the gap and make the step up to the Champions League places.
That can only realistically be done if they are to keep hold of their best players and with both Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley unwilling to sign new contracts at Goodison Park, it will make a difficult job all the more difficult.
There is a stand-off between England international Barkley and Everton boss Koeman with the former Barcelona defender more than prepared to show the star the exit door should he not put pen to paper in the next few weeks.
This situation has alerted Tottenham Hotspur, who are monitoring the situation with interest.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have recorded a second-placed Premier League finish and will look to strengthen their squad this summer with new faces.
Pundit Jamie Redknapp feels that Barkley could be well suited to a move to North London, and stated that Tottenham should move for the England international.
“Both players [Barkley and Lukaku] could well be playing elsewhere come August,” he told The Daily Mail.
“Ross Barkley needs to leave Goodison to show what he can do and I can see him in a Tottenham shirt”
There is no doubting Barkley’s talents but critics will argue that he has not shown enough of them on a consistent basis.
This is in comparison to Dele Alli, who if was to move to Tottenham, would be blocking the Everton man’s path to the first team.
Barkley is now 23 and perhaps not kicked on after initially bursting on to the Premier League scene back in the 2013/14 season.
With Koeman deciding not to start him towards the end of the season it does show that perhaps the homegrown hero is not necessary integral to Everton’s plans going forward.
If Koeman is true to his word and decides to sell the contract rebel then the question is what price can they realistically expect to get for Barkley when you keep in mind he only has 12 months left on his current deal.
A figure of £50m has been quoted but when you take into account that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is a master negotiator there is almost no way he will sanction a bid of that size.
If that does prove to be the case then could Barkley be in limbo for a season as potential suitors are scared off by the valuation that Everton has put on him.
It could well mean that he is frozen out of next season while he runs out the clock on Merseyside.
Should Tottenham make the decision to try and bring the Everton man into Pochettino’s squad this summer, Levy will surely be looking at an affordable transfer fee given the length of his remaining contract.
Ultimately it is going to come down to who blinks first in regards to this contract issue but you do get the feeling that Barkley’s days at Goodison Park are numbered and it is now just a question of not if but when he moves on to pastures new.