Barkley and Spurs

A month ago, if you were to guess what grand moves Spurs might make in the January transfer window, the smart money would’ve been an approach for Everton midfielder, Ross Barkley.

It’s a deal that appeared to suit everyone. Mauricio Pochettino gets to go full Dead Poets Society on another wayward but talented youth in revolt; Everton a chance to thin out a squad that somehow contains four playmakers.

And Ross Barkley, well, he gets an opportunity to jumpstart his career in a new city, at a new club, under a manager with a penchant for course-correcting young English stars and squeezing out every last globule of potential.

Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Danny Rose, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kyle Walker. Barkley felt like a natural addition to the list.

Football is an ever-changing beast, however. What was true in August, might not necessarily be so at the year’s end. And sure enough, a seismic managerial about-turn on Merseyside has made Barkley’s position even less clear.

Koeman overboard

Ronald Koeman had already resigned himself to losing Barkley. As early as May, he told us he would ‘look for players in that position’ after his prized midfielder had refused to sign a new contract.

But, following a catastrophic start to the 2017/18 season—amazingly, crow-barring every number 10 into the side wasn’t the exact formula for instant success— the Dutchman was shown the door at Goodison.

After a month of dallying and a great deal more David Unsworthing than they perhaps intended, Moshiri, Kenwright and the gang finally chose a successor for the departed Koeman. Completely lost at the sea, the board fired a distress flare into the heavens and Sam Allardyce answered the call.

To no surprise for anyone following , Allardyce has got a tune out of Everton and they’re steadily climbing the table. But what does the former England manager think of Ross Barkley? Does he hope to make use for him in the remaining months of the season, or will he cash in early?

What Big Sam’s said

“If Ross stays until the end of the season and I feel he is giving 100% to the team, like he has done since he was a kid, then he is an available asset for us until he leaves on a free transfer. I would hate that to happen but it might do.”

Barkley isn’t a perfect fit for the Allardycian model, but Big Sam has never been one to marginalise his flair players. Jay-Jay Okocha at Bolton,  Wilfried Zaha at Palace, even Ravel Morrison was given more than enough time to show his worth at West Ham. You get the impression that, if Barkley showed an air of commitment to the Everton cause, Allardyce would welcome him back into the fold.

This could all be lip-service, of course. A method of extracting the maximum profit from a player who’s certain to leave in the summer anyway.

Elsewhere, Captain Wayne Rooney seems inordinately in favour of keeping the Scouse prodigy at Goodison, despite what a glorious return to the side might do for his own position.

Ross is a fantastic player, really talented, and under Sam [Allardyce], with the players we have in the squad now, it can help him,” he told talkSPORT.

My own feeling is that a deal will be struck. But, as ever, it will drag until the final hours of the window. A transfer story that will unfold in crippling slow-motion throughout January, until we end up paying ludicrously over the odds. Or Chelsea will bulldoze us in the window’s final hour and we’ll have little cry.

I for one can’t wait.

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