Everton announced they reached an agreement with England international midfielder Ross Barkley on a four-year contract extension.
The club confirmed the new deal on its official Twitter feed Tuesday:
BREAKING: Ross Barkley signs new four-year contract with Everton. #EFC— Everton (@Everton) July 29, 2014
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail provided further details about the contract and why the Toffees felt the need to lock him up this summer:
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has moved to secure the England midfielder on a long-term contract after a summer of speculation linking him with the likes of Manchester City.
Sportsmail understands Barkley will earn around £65,000-a-week in the deal which keeps him at the club until 2018.
Barkley is coming off a breakout campaign that saw him score six goals in 34 Premier League appearances (25 starts). He was often the driving force behind an otherwise average Everton attack and emerged as one of the league's top young players.
WhoScored.com further illustrated his importance to the squad:
Ross Barkley: Only Graham Dorrans and Michael Carrick made more key passes without picking up a PL assist last season than Barkley (26) #efc— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 29, 2014
In turn, it came as no surprise that other clubs started to get linked to a possible transfer. A contract extension doesn't automatically mean he'll remain at Goodison Park through 2018, but it should secure his immediate future with the club.
Greg O'Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo passed along comments from the 20-year-old after he signed on the dotted line:
"It means everything to me. It's a dream playing for Everton. As soon as I got told about it I wanted to sign." @RBarkley20— Greg O'Keeffe (@GregOK) July 29, 2014
Is Barkley on the path to superstardom?
Barkley figures to see his role with the side expand again heading into the new campaign. Everton's roster has remained relatively steady during the summer. Barring any marquee additions to the attack, they will lean heavily on him to generate chances.
At the same time, he should become a more prominent piece for England, as well. He appeared in all three of the national team's matches during a disappointing World Cup run, but two came off the bench and he didn't display the same form he did with Everton.
His future at both the club and international levels is bright. Everton hope the new contract ensures he spends at least a few more seasons at Goodison Park.