Everton manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that he “100%” expects Ross Barkley to leave the club this summer.
The attacking midfielder has just one year left to run on his contract, and has definitively rejected the offer of a new contract.
Tottenham have been mentioned as possible suitors, but have balked at his reported £50million asking price, while Manchester United and Chelsea have been mentioned as possible suitors, while Arsenal are currently bookmakers’ favourites to land the player.
But despite insisting there are no offers on the table for the player, Koeman is adamant Barkley will be leaving Goodison Park.
“His personal situation is really not so difficult: 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,” Koeman said.
“It is not Everton future any more, it is his decision, I need to respect that and then we will see what happens but what I heard from the board is there is not really an offer on the table for Ross.
“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.
“It is really clear, I am looking to other players and that is my priority and not Ross, with respect. It is his decision.
“Everyone knows what the situation is and that’s enough, I don’t talk any more about this.”
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.
“He had his groin surgery last week and normally it takes three to four weeks before he is back,” he added.
“He has one more year of contract and we work with respect for people and if he is back after his surgery, after the injury, and back for training he will be part of first team sessions.”
Asked whether he had noticed a change in the player since his return for pre-season Koeman said: “No, he is the same.”
In light of the England international’s imminent departure, the Toffees are likely to step up their pursuit of Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson as a replacement, although the Welsh club are holding out for £50m, which has proved a sticking point in negotiations so far.
Everton have already been busy in the transfer market, having signed a whopping 11 players so far, including Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Sandro Ramirez. Their summer spree has largely been funded by the £90m they received for selling Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, and Barkley now looks set to join the Belgian out of the exit door.
Barkley has been with Everton for 12 years, making 150 senior appearances for the club, and scoring 21 goals in the process.