Ross Barkley hasn’t played a single minute of competitive football for Everton this season, and the young England international is set to unceremoniously leave Goodison Park on a free transfer at the end of the campaign. Regardless of the fact that the midfielder snubbed a new contract recently and then pushed for a move away from the club in the summer transfer window, Everton should be doing more to keep hold of Barkley, or at least put him to use this season.
Ronald Koeman has struggled to deal with the loss of Romelu Lukaku in the summer and, although Everton made over £75 million from the sale of the Belgian, Toffees fans would be much more grateful for the powerful attacker’s goals right now. Koeman failed to convince the 24-year-old that another few years plying his trade in Liverpool would be the best thing for his development, and had to let the prolific attacker walk out of the door. At the same time, the Dutchman was also unsuccessful in getting Barkley to sign an improved deal. These are two mistakes that Koeman could one day live to regret.
Koeman has also made it public knowledge that because Barkley attempted to force a move in the summer transfer window he is now out in the cold and away from the first team. But after a drastically poor start to the campaign, which saw Everton only pick up two wins from the first six games, the former Southampton manager should perhaps look to the man who provided 11 assists and scored five goals for the club last season. Despite signing Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea City for a club-record fee of £45 million, Everton had only created eight big chances after six games. In that same timeframe, Manchester City had made 28. At this rate, there is no way the Toffees will upset the established hierarchy, and the Mr Green sportsbook odds of 33/1 for them finishing in the top four reflect that as well.
Seeing as Barkley’s desired move to a “bigger club” never materialised, maybe the 23-year-old should seek to win back the manager’s favour. After all, his chances of making the World Cup in Russia will be slim to none if he doesn’t clock some game time and pick up some form before then. Other players including Philippe Coutinho and Alexis Sanchez, who also tried and failed to move to other clubs last summer, have reintegrated with their teams. Barkley should follow suit and Koeman should welcome him back. Who knows, if he has a good season and Everton do well in the league he may be tempted to sign a new deal after all.
If Barkley were to move to another club like Chelsea he would more than likely become a fringe player, and play a role similar to the one Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seems to have taken at Liverpool. At Everton, though, he has the potential to become the star man and maybe even lead this team forward into a new era. It would make much more sense for Koeman and Barkley to settle their differences now, rather than continue this childish feud.
The interests of the club should come first.