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Saturday 22 September 2018

Barkley's Everton career over as Europa return looms

Everton's Ross Barkley. Photo: PA
Everton's Ross Barkley. Photo: PA

Midfielder Ross Barkley's Everton career is over after he told manager Ronald Koeman he wants a new challenge.

The local-born England international, who joined the Toffees academy as an 11-year-old, had been stalling on a new £100,000-a-week contract offer made earlier this year and Koeman gave him a deadline for the end of the season to sign it or be sold.

Barkley, who has less than a year remaining on his current deal, has subsequently told Koeman he wants to move to another club and the manager's response was predictably blunt.

Asked whether Barkley would leave the Dutchman said: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"We made a good offer to him to sign a new contract, he declined that contract and told me that he is looking for a new challenge.

"It is not (an) Everton future any more, it is his decision, I need to respect that and then we will see what happens.

"My priority is not Ross, with respect, it is his decision. I look more to other players. I knew (this) at the end of the season."

Tottenham were linked with a move for Barkley, although their interest appears to have cooled after reports he wanted £150,000-a-week, with speculation also claiming Manchester United and Arsenal have considered the midfielder.

However, at the moment his options look limited after Koeman said there were not any realistic offers on the table and he was prepared to allow Barkley to run down his contract if necessary.

That presents the midfielder with a potential prospect of not having any game time in a season leading up to a World Cup.

"What I heard from the board is there is not really an offer on the table for Ross," added Koeman.

"It is really clear, I am looking to other players and that is my priority and not Ross, with respect. It is his decision."

Barkley is currently injured, having had surgery on a minor groin problem, and will be out for possibly the next month.

However, he will be expected to return to training as normal when he has recovered and Koeman has no plans to isolate him from the main group.

News of Barkley's impending departure overshadowed Wayne Rooney's return to Goodison Park with the former Manchester United forward set to start against Slovakians MFK Ruzomberok in a Europa League third-round qualifier tonight. The 31-year-old has made an emotional return to his boyhood club 13 years after leaving and has already had a positive effect within the squad.

"We know he is used to winning titles, which is what we want at Everton," said Koeman.

"The confidence in his football is what I like but what I really like is his ambition in training, showing to the young lads his experience and explaining things."

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