Everton boss Ronald Koeman has greater issues with Ross Barkley not signing a new contract than he does over the midfielder’s social activities.
The 23-year-old was left with a bruised face after allegedly being punched while on a night out in the city following Sunday’s win over Leicester.
Koeman had no worries about Barkley’s conduct in respect of that matter but his ongoing contract impasse – the England international has just over one year left on his current deal – remains a bone of contention.
“It is not what you like to read in the press about your players,” Koeman said of the nightclub incident.
“I think it could happen to anyone in town and maybe now you realise it is maybe not the best place (to be). It was the wrong time at the wrong place.
“But it is no problem for me if the behaviour (is good). He didn’t drink, he was driving his car, and if you meet those (type of) people then something can happen.
“Maybe that is the reason I live outside the town.
“You learn from incidents that happen and that’s good because you need to learn.”
Koeman has reiterated his stance that he needs Barkley to sign a new deal before the end of the season otherwise he will have to look at selling a player in the final year of his contract.
That does not mean, however, Koeman wants to get rid of the academy graduate.
“I am not involved in negotiations but I know the board is talking to his agent,” he said.
“We offer him what is good, what is normal for the player. We need to know the answer before the end of the season.
“I spoke to Ross several weeks ago and he mentioned his ambition was the Champions League and I told him I had the same ambition.
“He is one of the key players, a kid of the club and a kid of the town, and in my opinion there is no better place for him to continue than at Everton.
“Everyone sees a difference between this season and last season: the direction, the new signings, the new stadium.”
Striker Romelu Lukaku has already told the Toffees he will not be signing a new contract, although he has two years remaining, as he wants to play in Europe’s elite club competition.
Asked whether Barkley, who has been linked with Tottenham, doing the same was a concern, Koeman said: “If you ask the players one by one everyone will mention they like to play Champions League: for every manager, for every player and also the fans.
“Our next step is to play in Europe. It will be difficult but if we finish fifth or sixth it would be perfect as you don’t play any qualification games for the Europa League.”