Over the last 6 or 7 years, Everton have become a real “smoke and mirrors” outfit – we never quite know what’s real and what’s not. Of course there is a need for discretion and we were once renowned for the club’s stealth in signing new players, but the world has changed and mobile-phone cameras, social media and the insatiable demand for round-the-clock news make such discretion more difficult. Why then should the club go to such lengths to make life even more difficult for itself by being so opaque over things it can control – such as giving us real facts about our own players?
Look at the apparently similar situations regarding Lukaku and Barkley; there are some discrepancies here when really there should be complete transparency. Take for instance the fact that a salary figure is being bandied about openly in the press and social media regarding the new contract on the table for Lukaku.
Now compare that with the Barkley situation where, unless I’m missing something, the figure always shown is his reputed current salary rather than one that has been offered in the new contract. Both of these players are high-value assets and both are popular with the fans, but whereas a proven goalscorer is very difficult to replace, that is not necessarily the case with a creative midfielder.
So is someone trying to blur the lines here? Perhaps some players “are more equal than others,” or is there in fact a hidden agenda to sell one of these two without looking as though the club had much choice in the matter? One of the main things I hoped for under Moshiri was that he or his representative would put a stop to shenanigans like this. Unfortunately it is very much ‘as you were’ and the club continues its descent into amateur smoke-screening.
Call me old-fashioned but I just love players who want to play for Everton. I would say there is no doubt that Barkley is in that category while Lukaku, self-evidently, is not. In my world, Ross Barkley is the kind of player we build a team around; yes, he could improve his goals return but all his other stats bear extremely favourable comparison with any creative midfielder in the Premier League.
Mr Koeman may see this differently but if he believes that Sigurdsson, for example, would be better for Everton than Barkley, he should quietly explain that to Ross and let him find another club (there are about 19 others in the Premier League who would want him) where he can continue his development into probably a world-class player by the time he’s about 27. And once this is done, this Summer Koeman might share that explanation with us paying supporters as to why spending £35m to buy Sigurdsson to replace Barkley was a good idea.
In the meantime, while Barkley is being publicly chastised and warned that he will be sold despite never once having intimated that he wants to leave, Lukaku openly flaunts his preferences to move away from Everton. Bizarrely, Everton publicly warn him that he’ll NOT be sold. Is this sensible planning? I think not and personally, being old school again, I’d put a stop to this.
I’d be saying, "Thanks, Rom, for all the goals this season, especially in the key games where we really needed you to come up with the winner, but it’s time for us to plan ahead now. We know you want to win the Golden Boot but, in the greater scheme of things, that does not matter to anyone but you and we know you will understand, now that we will finish 7th, possibly even 6th, and qualify for Europe, that we need you to sit on the bench while we take a closer look at how Calvert-Lewin and Lookman gel together in these next 4 games, which are still meaningful to us as a club. So here’s your flip-flops and have some fun watching the Chelsea and Man Utd in-house TV channels that you seem to enjoy so much."
And planning ahead, Everton might even yet decide to keep on nurturing a special talent and decide to see how a maturing Barkley fits in just behind those two kids up front and provides the bullets for them to fire as well as continuing to have such a positive impact on Tom Davies alongside him.
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