Ronald Koeman in action for Everton
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Friday, May 19, 2017
Ronald Koeman says he is not confident Ross Barkley will stay at Everton and has begun the search for a midfield replacement.
The 23-year-old has been offered a new long-term contract at Goodison Park, with his current one due to expire in 2018, but has so far declined to put pen-to-paper.
Koeman last week warned Barkley he must commit to a new deal before the end of the season or will be sold this summer.
The England international – reportedly wanted by Tottenham – has still not revealed his intentions, however.
Asked on Friday if he was confident Barkley would stay, boss Koeman said: “No.
“I spoke to the player, the board spoke to his agent. I don’t know if he won’t give an answer. I don’t know.”
Koeman wants Barkley to stay – but insists it won’t be a disaster if he does go.
“We will go on and we’re looking for players in that position. If he stays there will be more competition,” added the Dutchman.
“I am not worried because I like to work with players who like to play.
“If you offer a player a new contract, and a good contract, that means you want to keep the player.”
Koeman also said he knew of no update in terms of Romelu Lukaku, the striker who in March told Everton he will not sign the contract extension on offer.
Lukaku, currently on a deal that has just over two years left, has scored 24 league goals this season, which did have him in pole position for the golden boot until Tottenham’s Harry Kane netted four times at Leicester on Thursday to take his tally to 26.
Koeman feels Lukaku must improve his game but has praised the 24-year-old Belgian for his scoring efforts, and notably suggested that while Everton “need to keep his goals”, they could also do with more players who in a season can contribute over five – the amount Barkley has netted in the league this term.
Koeman said of Lukaku: “Even if he doesn’t win the golden boot, 24 goals is a good number.
“He can improve – he knows that by himself. He is just 24 years old and he can improve, and needs to in several aspects, as a nine, as a target man – to keep the ball better, be stronger and do better pressing in front. But that is what we work on to improve.
“What we need is to keep his goals and find more players to score more than four or five in one season.”