Tottenham chief is the ideal mentor to help Everton and England star fulfil his potential
As the late Hughie Green used to say on “Opportunity Knocks”: “It’s make your mind up time.”
Ross Barkley looks set to leave Everton this summer
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino could help Barkley become the player England wants him to be
With Ronald Koeman opening the Goodison Park exit door wide open, Barkley does not have too many options now. He has to step through it.
The question, then, for the 23-year-old, is whether he can recognise his career is in serious danger of going backwards faster than the tide and make the right choice to alter things. Or risk disappearing into the hole of failed pretenders.
That Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino wants Barkley in his squad is not in doubt. The Argentine believes the England midfielder has all the attributes to make an impact for Tottenham.
But Spurs, White Hart Lane or Wembey, are Spurs. They will not pay the sort of money Barkley wants, let alone the kind of transfer fee Everton were envisaging at the start of the summer.
Tottenham have made it clear that the very idea of paying £50m for the player, or offering terms in the £100,000 per week range, is simply not going to happen.
Koeman’s public comments ensure that Barkley’s market price, as he enters the final 12 months of his contract, is under £30m and falling. Spurs will be determined it drops to closer to £20m.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman has confirmed that Barkley has rejected a new Toffees contract
Now Ross Barkley has a big decision to make regarding his future
And as for wages, Barkley may discover that £65,000 is at the very top end of what Daniel Levy is prepared to pay.
He can, of course, turn his back on such sums, dismiss the idea that Pochettino can make him into the player English football wants him to be, and wait for another offer. One that might never come. Or, as he should, Barkley can look at what Pochettino has done.
To Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. To Eric Dier and Harry Winks. Most of all to Dele Alli and Harry Kane.
In the space of less than two years, they have become big players for the team that has been the most consistent in the Premier League. Five of them are already first choice for England.
Mauricio Pochettino has helped to transform several England stars into big players for Spurs
Tottenham have made it clear that they are unwilling to spend £50m on Barkley
Ross Barkley’s stock has fallen dramatically over the past year
A status Barkley had probably, in truth, expected he would himself have attained by now.
Instead, having gone to Euro 2016 and not kicked a ball last summer, Barkley has spent this summer in limbo, having to come to terms with the way his stock has fallen.
Barkley must recognise he would not walk into the Tottenham first team. Not with Dele, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min in front of him, with Erik Lamela due to return from the injury that has wrecked his past 12 months by the end of September.
Everton 1-0 Watford : Ross Barkley bags fine winner for Toffees
But if he could learn from Pochettino, put in the work required, develop tactically and technically, understand how to make better decisions in key areas of the park, he would soon find Levy asking his agent to come in for talks about the next contract. That, remember, is how Spurs work.
Ronald Koeman has revealed that Ross Barkley wants a new challenge
Ross Barkley may discover that £65,000 a week is all that Spurs will offer
There is no doubt that Mauricio Pochettino wants to add him to his Spurs squad
Barkley will have to compete with the likes of Dele Alli for a spot in the Spurs side
Barkley may have expected the world would be at his feet by this stage in his career. In truth, it is now about making the biggest call he has ever made.
He has to do the right thing. Making the sacrifices that will allow him to be honed by Pochettino represents that correct decision.
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