Everton “may have to consider” selling Ross Barkley for £50m in the not too distant future to break into the top four, according to former Goodson Park star Neville Southall.
The 21-year-old midfielder enjoyed an excellent breakthrough season with the Toffees last term, playing regularly in Roberto Martinez’s XI during the Champions League push before booking a spot in England’s World Cup squad.
His impressive performances have led to interest from some of the biggest clubs in England and abroad, with Manchester City and Chelsea understood to be particularly interested in the youngster.
And with Everton struggling to replicate the form they showed in 2013/14, Southall – the club’s all-time record appearance holder – believes that selling Barkley for a fee of around £50m may be a “game changer” as they set about bridging the top four gap:
“I won’t win many friends for saying this – but Everton may have to consider selling Ross Barkley,” he wrote in his blog for Paddy Power.
“It all comes down to money. Is the club really going to improve that much if we sell Seamus Coleman or Leighton Baines and get £20 million max?
“I don’t think so. The only real game-changer we have is Ross Barkley.
“But that doesn’t mean we just sell off the crown jewels and bring in stop-gap players that work in the short term.
“For the type of money we should demand for one of the brightest English talents in the game – we should get two or three quality players who join Everton for the long haul.
“Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see any of our quality players leaving the club. But sometimes you have to lose one to get three in so that the club continues to progress.
“But I wouldn’t be letting Barkley go for anything less than £45-£50m and only then if we’ve identified another top-class midfielder, centre-half and possibly goalkeeper to replace him.
“Mediocre is not what it says on our motto. Nils satis nisi optimum means ‘Nothing but the best is good enough.’
“Ideally, I want the club to say we’re keeping them all AND we’re investing more to get us where we want to be. We sold Wayne Rooney (below) and survived.
“But let’s make sure we bring in proven, quality players if we sell to get the club back to where it belongs.”