Ross Barkley is not for sale at any price, even if an offer eclipsed the £86million world record fee Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale.
That was the determined message from Everton boss Roberto Martinez last night, as he began what he accepts is the inevitable process of fending off interest in a player dubbed England’s next superstar.
Barkley produced another stunning match-winning performance at Swansea to catapult the Blues into the top four, and virtually book his place at the World Cup finals.
It has also magnified the long standing interest in the midfielder from the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, but Martinez has boldly stated that there is no chance of him leaving.
“Even if we got a Gareth Bale-size valuation we would never even consider it in January,” the Spaniard insisted.
“Ross is an icon for us. He represents everything we are trying to do this season, so even if a stupid offer arrived in January it would never, never affect us.
“It is important for us as a football club to show we are making the right football decisions. There is no question mark over Ross’ future, he is in the best moment of his time and is everything we want a player to represent at Everton.
“There is not even a question mark against whether he is going to be here in February or not.”
Martinez is a pragmatist who knows that if Barkley continues to develop at his current rate then he will inevitably move one day to one of the giants of the world game.
Even Manchester United were forced to sell Cristiano Ronaldo and Madrid eventually snatched Bale, but crucially, the Blues boss is adamant it will be Everton who dictate the terms of any potential departure.
And given the 20-year-old is still learning his trade AND developing in a team structured to get the best from his talents, then there is no chance of him leaving in the next 18 months.
“Ross is in a moment of his career where first, he knows that he needs to carry on developing and this is the perfect place to do that. Second, he is a mad Evertonian and enjoying every single second,” Martinez added.
“Third, we are in the middle of a season where we would never, ever consider disrupting what we have got in our squad now. It is not the right time for the player or the club to consider anything.
“You need to understand that you cannot fight against the trend of the modern game. You saw it with Gareth Bale, with Ronaldo; that is the nature of the modern game.
“What is very important is that if anything happens, it is our club that dictates how and when.
“If we had a financial problem or were facing a financial disaster then we would not be in control of those aspects and I would be telling you ‘Look, we are in the lap of the Gods’. We are not in that situation at all. We are probably in the strongest financial position we have been for a long, long time.”
Crucially for Everton, Barkley himself is a committed Evertonian, and he has already firmly stated he believes he is in the best place to continue his development.
The midfielder has committed his immediate future to the club after signing a new long term contract recently, and he will not leave next summer, never mind January, as Martinez explained.
“I’ve never met an elite footballer with such a strong winning mentality who is so down-to-earth. He is so realistic about what he has to do,” the Everton boss said.
“Ross knows he is in the best place, there is no doubt about that. What he has done on the pitch has caught a lot of attention but Ross he recognises he’s a very young man and is still developing.
“He knows he’s in the middle of the best moment in his career right now, because we are allowing him to break new ground, trying things out – he’s enjoying testing himself and he is becoming an important player.
“He knows we are not relying on him to win football games. We are relying on him to be at his best to play, that’s a phenomenal position for him to be in.”
Written by Steve Milne – Have your say below 🙂