According to reports from The Daily Mail, Tottenham Hotspur are heading the queue to sign Everton midfielder Ross Barkley during the summer transfer window.
It’s claimed Spurs have held a long-standing interest in the playmaking Englishman for some time and indeed, The Daily Mail are by no means the only publication to report on the saga this season. The Telegraph discussed a potential January bid in the buildup to the last transfer window, whilst The Sun mooted a possible summer swoop following the turn of 2017.
But The Mail report that Spurs have now ‘hardened’ their interest in the 23-year-old, with his Goodison Park contract – due to expire at the end of next season – winding down. Of course, the declaration coincides with Barkley’s return to the England squad, amid a run of one goal and six assists in his last nine Premier League appearances.
An interesting question and one The Mail claim even Mauricio Pochettino has some doubts over. On the surface, it seems unlikely Barkley can operate in the same team as Spurs’ prodigious No.10 Dele Alli, who has made the role his own at White Hart Lane since arriving from MK Dons at the start of last season. Likewise, would Barkley actually want to be in the same team as a player he’s competing with for the attacking midfield slot in the Three Lions’ starting XI?
But Barkley and Alli are both flexible players; we’ve seen them operate as wide men and deeper-lying midfielders throughout their careers, albeit to varying degrees of success, so they can both be shifted around the midfield to accommodate each other. But the most obvious solution is continuing Spurs’ 3-4-2-1 setup next season, which allows for two central attacking midfielders behind the striker. That, however, would push Christian Eriksen out of Spurs’ starting XI.
Barkley’s contract situation suggests he’s at the very least considering leaving his boyhood club this summer, whilst The Daily Mail claim the Toffees midfielder has already told Jamie Redknapp he wants to be playing in the Champions League – a competition Spurs are on course to qualify for this season. Romelu Lukaku’s potential departure could have an impact, should it raise further concerns over Everton’s inability to hold onto top-class players.
But Spurs are by no means the only party at the table. Arsenal are also monitoring the 22-cap playmaker according to The Telegraph, whilst any England international available at a reasonable price – assuming his contract situation could force Everton to sell for less than John Stones, for example – is almost certain to attract interest from Manchester United and Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has already discussed his desire for English talent at the Etihad Stadium, albeit whilst bemoaning their inflated price-tags.