Everton's new signing Wayne Rooney has expressed his desire for the Merseyside club to hang on to their midfield star Ross Barkley, as a potential exit to fellow Premier League side Spurs looms large. The 23-year-old has just 12 months left on his Everton contract, and the gifted midfielder was unable to make the club's trip to Tanzania this week due to a groin problem.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Rooney has publicly revealed how keen he is for his fellow England international to remain a Toffees player. Rooney stated:
"With the ability that Ross has, we all want him to be part of what we're trying to achieve at Everton. But the decision about his future is down to him, and I'm sure he'll speak to the manager and do what's right".
No English player has created more 'goalscoring chances' than Ross Barkley's 64 this season. [Opta] pic.twitter.com/CKNE8c6rlz— ㅤ (@Shadowzkadz) March 16, 2017
Spurs are believed to be in pole position to sign the Liverpudlian, with Arsenal and West Ham also thought to be vying for the player's signature. Barkley fought back from a spell on the bench for his club last season, and managed to contribute an impressive five goals and eight assists in his 32 league starts for the Toffees, with an excellent pass completion rate of 82.5%.
Rooney rejoined his boyhood club last week, having spent the 13 seasons at Manchester United, becoming their all-time record scorer and winning five league titles in the process. The England captain went on to discuss the changes in the club since he left, contending:
"Everton have always had ambition, but I feel the club didn't really push on with that ambition. But they are starting to act on that ambition and as a fan it's great to see. To come back here and try to help with that was perfect for me. I'll be trying to help the young lads to get the best out of them."
253 - Wayne Rooney departs Manchester United as the club's all-time record goalscorer, with 253 goals in all competitions. Emotional. pic.twitter.com/maF54h0ssm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 9, 2017
Everton have been very active in the summer transfer window so far, signing a number of quality players: Jordan Pickford became the most expensive British goalkeeper in history with his £30m switch from Sunderland, Burnley and England defender Michael Keane joined for £24m, as well as deals for Ajax's captain Davy Klaassen and Málaga forward Sandro Ramírez.
Toffees boss Ronald Koeman will be eager to hold on to Barkley, but is unlikely to stand in his way if he wishes to leave Goodison Park this summer. Barkley's potential destination seems a strange fit, as Spurs already have Dele Alli as their first choice number ten. Barkley would have to compromise on his choice of preferred position if he were to join Spurs this summer.