Everton manager Ronald Koeman sparked a transfer chase for Ross Barkley on Wednesday by revealing he is “100 percent” certain the England midfielder will leave Goodison Park.
Barkley is in the final year of his Everton contract and last season he was told by Koeman he would be sold if he didn’t sign the Premier League club’s offer of a lucrative new deal.
Koeman claims Barkley has made it clear he wants to leave and the Dutch coach expects the 23-year-old to eventually get his wish, with Arsenal and Tottenham both keen on signing the Everton youth team product.
Asked if he was 100 percent sure, Barkley would go, Koeman told reporters: “Yeah. Ross told me at the end of the season he wanted another challenge.
“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.
“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.
“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 up to four weeks.
Koeman has already brought in Davy Klaassen from Ajax to replace Barkley and is eyeing a move for Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson.
But when Barkley returns to fitness, Koeman has no plans to remove him from the squad until a transfer is sealed.
“He had his groin surgery last week and normally it takes three to four weeks before he is back,” Koeman said.
“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.”