Everton manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed that Ross Barkley will leave Goodison Park this summer amid interest from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Jose Mourinho has already done business with the Toffees this summer, prizing Romelu Lukaku away for £75m and sending Wayne Rooney the other way for free.
According to various reports, Man United have pin-pointed Barkley – who made 39 appearances last season – as a potential option this summer.
And Koeman has confirmed that the 23-year-old told him of his desire to leave at the end of last season, adding that there are no offers on the table for the midfielder as things stand.
“He had his groin surgery last week and it will take three or four weeks to be back,” he said. “His personal situation is not so difficult. We made a really good offer to him to sign a new contract, he declined that contract and told me that he is looking for a new challenge. OK, he is not in Everton’s future any more.
“It is his decision. I need to respect that and see what happens. What I heard from the board at the moment is that there is no offer on the table for Ross.”
“It is really clear. I am looking to other players. They are my priority and not Ross, with all respect, because it is his decision. Everybody knows what the situation is.
“He told me at the end of last season. He has one more year on his contract and we work with respectful people. And after his surgery, if he is back for training, he will be part of the first-team sessions.”
The agenda generated against Barkley by some segments of this country’s footballing audience would lead you to believe that he is far older than 23 – younger than Jesse Lingard.
But if you remove the chatter that perennially surrounds his name, the noise obsessed with expressing doubts over his capacity to thrive in the long term, and strictly analyse the player, you see an attacking midfielder with raw talent and, crucially, potential to improve even more with regular game time.