Everton manager Ronald Koeman is not prepared to be held to ransom by his players having insisted he is “not afraid” by Romelu Lukaku’s contract situation and warned Ross Barkley he needs to sign a new deal or be sold.
The Dutchman was angered by Lukaku saying his desire to play in the Champions League and win titles, combined with Everton’s failure to attract the best players, are the reasons behind his decision not to sign a new contract which his agent claimed was “99.9 per cent” done.
However, with the Belgium international having more than two years remaining, Koeman said he was not overly concerned at present.
But there was a more pointed message aimed at Barkley, whose improved recent form has earned him an England recall, and who is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract.
“Of course I am not happy about that interview. If Everton is not a club with a lot of ambition I would not be manager,” said Koeman on Lukaku’s comments.
“But I am not so afraid about his situation because the player has more than two years on his contract.
“Everyone knows what can happen in football but you need to respect your contract.”
He took a different tone in relation to the position of Barkley, a city-born academy graduate.
“Ross is a boy from Everton and what we need to show for him is the best reasons to stay and of course his situation is different because his (contract) is running out next season,” added Koeman.
“Football is a business and you make decisions at the end of the season.
“He needs to sign a new contract, if not you need to sell the player.
“It is not an ultimatum but that is normal – that is business.
“When I was manager at Southampton we had (Nathaniel) Clyne and he did not accept a new contract so we sold him in the summer.
“I spoke to Ross about a new contract and now it is up to the board to get that contract over the line.
“The player has to understand if he does not sign a new contract by one year (left) you need to make a decision for the club so it knows what will happen next year.
“Ultimatum is strong, I don’t like that word, it’s not like that.”