Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is eyeing a summer move for wantaway Everton star Ross Barkley
As per a report in The Times, the Argentinian manager sees Barkley as a potential long term successor for Mousa Dembele, who celebrated his 30th birthday this month and believes that he can convert the Englishman from an attacking midfielder into a full fledged central midfielder.
Barkley, now 23, wasn’t able to build upon an extremely promising 2015/16 campaign, in which he scored 12 goals and assisted 11 in 48 appearances across all competitions and his relations with manager Ronald Koeman broke down over the course of the previous campaign.
Barkley couldn’t match up to Dutchman’s standards last season and the 54-year-old manager never minced his words while criticising him over the course of the campaign, publicly saying that he has to improve his game tactically, defensively and with regard to his aggression.
The England international, who has a season left on his current contract, has also refused to sign a new deal with the club, which would see him earn a reported £100,000-a-week. Ronald Koeman also recently revealed that Barkley had told him that he is looking for ‘a new challenge’.
According to the Telegraph, on being asked about Barkley exit this summer, he said: “Yes, 100 per cent. I knew this already from the end of last season. We made a really good offer to him to sign a new contract, he declined that contract and told me that he is looking for a new challenge.”
While he has been linked with a move to a number of clubs this summer, most recently Chelsea, Koeman went on to revealed that the club hadn’t received any offers for him yet. “What I heard from the board at the moment is that there is no offer on the table for Ross.”
Barkley is expected to cost any potential suitors a massive £50 million, something most clubs are unlikely to pay for a player who only has a season left on his current contract and is still recovering from a groin injury after having surgery last week.
Spurs, who have not yet brought in any players this summer, may very well be waiting for the Toffees to reduce their price tag. However, Pochettino’s desire to try and convert an attacking midfielder into a central midfielder instead of purchasing a like-for-like replacement comes as a surprise.
They already have 21-year-old Harry Winks in the squad, who came through the ranks at Spurs’ youth academy and made his Premier League debut last season and racked up 33 appearances across all competitions last season, starting 11 of those games.
Pochettino has a good record of developing young English talent so a move to Spurs would most likely be beneficial to Barkley. He would also be able to play in the Champions League and could also serve as an able replacement for Dele Alli in the attacking midfield position
While Barkley is undoubtedly talented and has played as a central midfielder on occasion, switching to a new team, adjusting to the philosophy of a new manager and settling into a new position would take a lot of time and one suspects if the Englishman will be worth the time and effort.
It will be interesting to see if Pochettino is actually able to improve and bring out the best in Barkley, who will be vying for a place in England’s World Cup squad next year and convert the Englishman into a top class central midfielder.