Manchester City Must Make Everton Midfielder Ross Barkley a Transfer Priority

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Manchester City Must Make Everton Midfielder Ross Barkley a Transfer Priority
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This summer's World Cup in Brazil has been a triumph of opening, attacking football, with the negative tactics that defined events in South Africa and Germany confined to the sidelines.

It's captivated viewers across the world, reigniting our love affair with the world's greatest football tournament.

For England, though, the event was a near total disaster. Just one point gained and two goals scored, a group-stage exit—their first from a World Cup since 1958—was confirmed within a week of their campaign starting.

However, even for Roy Hodgson's side, who failed so spectacularly, there were some positives to be taken from Brazil.

A new batch of young players, fearless and full of promise, were given chances to shine, an opportunity to gain experience of playing at the very highest level and one that will aid their progress significantly.

One standout performer was Everton's Ross Barkley, a 20-year-old attacking midfielder who appears to have everything he needs to be an England star for years to come: exceptional feet, a sharp, intelligent footballing brain, supreme confidence and skill.

Every time he played, whether coming from the bench or as a starter against Costa Rica in England's final game, he added impetus and belief to Hodgson's team, his technical ability and desire to create something England have badly lacked in the recent past, reminiscent of a young Paul Gascoigne.

He provided excitement with his ability to take players on and play wonderful through balls to the forwards, and he looks set to have a central role in England's future.

All of which makes him desirable to England’s top clubs, and according to James Nursey in The Daily Mirror, Manchester City are set to launch a £25 million bid to sign him from Goodison Park this summer.

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If it's financially viable and there's a willingness from Everton to sell, City should make his signature a priority. Young talents in the class of Barkley are rare, and when the opportunity to sign one arises, it must be seized. Just ask former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

When Wayne Rooney burst on to the scene as a precocious teenager at Everton in 2004, he instantly showed he had the ability needed to be a world-class star for years to come.

In 2004, Newcastle launched a bid for his signature and everything looked set to go through, but Ferguson, who could not bear the thought of seeing the finest English talent in a generation move elsewhere in the Premier League, stepped in and sealed a deal to bring him to Old Trafford.

Few could argue it's been a great move for United.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Barkley's situation is similar. So clearly a talented and technically gifted player, whoever gets him is guaranteeing themselves a brilliant player for potentially many years to come.

Barkley would also help City manage their "home-grown" quota, something they are struggling to meet after allowing Joleon Lescott to leave, and with Gareth Barry, Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair and maybe even James Milner set to follow him.

It does seem, however, that a top-class centre-back is City's top priority, with the need to provide Vincent Kompany with a long-term partner their most pressing one. And with the club only allowed a net spend of £49 million after Uefa's Financial Fair Play sanctions were imposed on them, there's less room to manoeuvre than in previous seasons.

Eliaquim Mangala and Mehdi Benatia are the two names who appear to be interesting City, but both are likely to cost in the region of £30 million. But with City short at centre-back, the club may well decide it's worth paying a premium if they land a quality partner for their captain.

Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean forward who has impressed at the World Cup, is another player who appears to be available and would surely interest Manuel Pellegrini and director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Sanchez is unfortunate to find himself on the periphery at Barcelona, and there will be no shortage of takers for him if, indeed, he does exit the Camp Nou this summer.

City may well need to offload some players to make way for high-profile new arrivals, with Alvaro Negredo continually linked with a move back to Spain (via David McDonnell at The Mirror).

It's thought the striker has failed to settle in Manchester, and with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid looking to fill the void left by Diego Costa, a move to the Vicente Calderon could be in the offing.

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City will need to be clever in the transfer market this summer with their spending limited, but if they can be creative and offload some of their peripheral talent, there are some excellent players available and within reach.

Barkley, though, would surely top their list of attacking options.

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2014-15 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.

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