Roberto Martinez has laughed off reports linking Liverpool with a £38 million bid for Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
The Toffees boss jovially dismissed yet another alleged attempt to prise the young talent away from Goodison Park, as reported by Paul Collins of the Daily Mail:
In terms of speculation, we already turned down a £50million bid from (Manchester) United so we're not going to take £38m from Liverpool. It's quite enjoyable to speak about speculation because it shows how well our players are doing. That's the type of football compliments we want.
Chris McKenna of the Daily Star revealed the potential bid, saying, "Liverpool are willing to smash their transfer record to land the midfield ace." Despite Barkley's breakthrough season promoting plenty of reported interest—with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea previously linked, per Matt Law of the Telegraph—Martinez seems adamant on keeping his talented starlet.
The Spanish manager told United they "wouldn’t even get him on loan" amid reports of a £50 million splurge back in December, reported by John Edwards of the Daily Mail. Martinez also claimed he is "confident" any bids will be resisted due to Everton's strong financial situation, allowing the club to be run on "footballing decisions," not those that will make money.
Similar to Raheem Sterling at Liverpool, Barkley has emerged as one of England's top prospects across the current season. His confidence on the ball, raw power and willingness to dribble beyond opponents has gained many plaudits in a season that could see Everton clinch a Champions League spot.
Although occasionally greedy with the ball at his feet—completing 2.2 dribbles per game and being dispossessed an average of 1.7 times, per WhoScored.com—Barkley is sure to continue improving as he gets used to making pressured decisions.
He has scored five goals in 30 Premier League appearances this campaign, taking on a prominent role just behind on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku. Together, they are blessed with the physical capability to overpower defences, despite both sitting at the ripe age of 20.
Barkley would certainly fit into Liverpool's setup under Brendan Rodgers. The Reds boss has masterminded a run to the domestic summit by employing fast-paced, attacking football with the kind of incision that his reported target exerts.
He could act as the natural successor to Steven Gerrard, whose box-to-box antics are now converted into a more thoughtful approach. Barkley flaunts shades of the England captain's once limitless energy and Wayne Rooney's power, making him a huge prospect for future success.
Martinez plans to offer Barkley, alongside his other young stars, a new deal at the end of the season, reported by ESPN. The England international's decision to sign could shape Everton's future for years to come. If he is to remain loyal like Gerrard, the Merseyside club are more than likely to attract world-class stars in the coming years.
Expect Barkley to receive plenty of interest throughout the summer, especially if he is picked in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad. Should the planet witness his array of skills on the biggest stage of all, Martinez's confidence in keeping his key player will soon be challenged via a hefty bid.