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Ronald Koeman Confirms Ross Barkley Will Leave Everton for 'New Challenge'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2017

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Ross Barkley of Everton shakes hands with Ronald Koeman, Manager of Everton as he is subbed off during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on May 12, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed Ross Barkley will leave the club this summer in search of a "new challenge." 

Koeman spoke to the press on Wednesday and was asked about the England international, who has one year left on his contract at Goodison Park. As noted by Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo, the Dutchman was candid in his assessment of the player's situation:

Phil Kirkbride @philkecho

Koeman on Barkley: "He had groin surgery last week. His personal situation not so difficult. We made a really good offer..."

Phil Kirkbride @philkecho

Koeman on Barkley: "He has told me he is looking for a new challenge. I need to respect that." Says no offers on the table

Phil Kirkbride @philkecho

Koeman confirms that he fully expects Barkley to leave

According to Paul Joyce of the Times, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester United all have an interest in the 23-year-old.

Per Sky Sports News, Koeman said he "100 per cent" expects the midfielder to move on during the current transfer window.

Barkley broke through into the Everton team during the 2013-14 term and enjoyed a tremendous season. However, since then he has struggled for consistency.

Under Koeman he enjoyed a brilliant spell early in 2017 when used on the right side of midfield, although his erratic form returned towards the back end of the campaign. With no contract extension signed, speculation gathered pace about a possible exit from his boyhood club.

Journalist Joe Strange doesn't believe leaving Goodison Park at this point is the right decision for the player:

Joe Strange @joe_strange

Cannot get my head around Ross Barkley turning down a lucrative contract at his newly ambitious boyhood club. Madness. Sell him and move on.

Indeed, while Everton have sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for an initial £75 million, the club have been busy in the summer window.

The Toffees brought in Wayne Rooney from United, while Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez have also arrived. Everton have also recently had a £40 million bid rejected for Gylfi Sigurdsson, per BBC Sport.

Rooney is one of a number of acquisitions made by Everton this summer.
Rooney is one of a number of acquisitions made by Everton this summer.VI-Images/Getty Images

Even so, Barkley is a talent and was one of the most creative players in the Premier League last season, as noted by OptaJoe:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

8 - Ross Barkley provided more assists than any other English player in the 2016-17 Premier League campaign. Service. https://t.co/p37eGFrSOn

While plenty will question Barkley's decision to move on and where he'd fit into the interested teams, the pressure of being a local player can often inhibit the development of a footballer. And there have been signs of that in the case of the Everton man.

Whatever team does eventually get their hands on the England international will have a player who is strong on the ball and inventive in his passing. Finding a way to inject some consistency into his game will be a huge challenge, though. 

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