Everton are one of several Premier League clubs to have been linked with a transfer move for Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley ahead of the January transfer window.
According to TEAMtalk, the Toffees are joined by Newcastle United and Leeds United in the race for the 27-year-old’s signature as he searches for regular game time.
The report states that: “We understand that Barkley himself believes he can still force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the World Cup finals in Qatar, and he is a player that in the past has been picked by the Three Lions boss.
“Newly bought Newcastle United are understood to be leading the chase. However, Leeds and former Everton club are also keen – with a loan to buy option favoured.”
It’s been a frustrating few years for Barkley since he departed his boyhood club back in January 2018 in order to take the next step in his promising career.
He’s featured from the off on just 29 occasions in the Premier League for the west London outfit in his near-four-year stay, with his start against Burnley over the weekend his first since August 2019.
A season-long loan spell at Aston Villa last term got off to a promising start, though, with Barkley bagging three goals and one assist in his first seven appearances for the Midlands outfit.
He told The BBC: “Ross seems to have found a system that suits him and a manager who wants to play him. This is exactly what he needs. He now needs to find the consistency that has been lacking in his game because this is a crucial stage of his career.
“Ross has been spoken about in glowing terms since he was very young but he is 27 now and needs to deliver on that potential. At his best, he is a match-winner, and Villa is a great platform for him.”
However, Barkley was unable to sustain his early-season form. A hamstring injury kept the creative talent on the treatment table for several weeks, and he was only able to add one more goal to his tally in his subsequent 20 outings.
It seemed as though a summer exit from Stamford Bridge was inevitable for the stocky dynamo, but with no suitable offer arriving, Barkley has been forced to settle for a bit-part role in Thomas Tuchel’s star-studded squad.
The upcoming winter window could offer the Englishman a way out of his Chelsea nightmare, though, and he’s exactly the sort of player that Everton are lacking at this moment in time.
With James Rodriguez exiting Merseyside after just a single season, Rafa Benitez’s charges lack the guile, creativity, and goal threat required to carve teams open at the top end of the pitch, attributes that Barkley has in abundance.
Only time will tell if Marcel Brands follows up his reported interest in the ex-Everton gem, but his return to Goodison Park could have a hugely beneficial effect upon the struggling Blues.