For much of the summer transfer window, Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has been a likely candidate to leave Merseyside. At the end of last season, Everton manager Ronald Koeman clearly stated that if Barkley didn’t extend his contract with the club after being offered a new contract, he would be shipped elsewhere. Barkley has shown no signs of accepting Everton’s offer, most likely resulting in a one-way ticket out of town. A recent hamstring injury that appears to be serious could prevent him from being sold by the end of the month when the transfer window closes.
Barkley did not play in Everton’s Premier League opener or either of the team’s Europa League qualifying matches earlier this month. Aside from being at odds with Koeman and being shopped around at what most clubs would consider an outrageous price, Barkley was recovering from hernia surgery. He had only recently returned to training when he went down with a hamstring injury during a training session Monday.
The initial news on the injury does not appear to be good. Everton believes Barkley has suffered a Grade 3 tear of the hamstring. This is the most serious type of hamstring injury, as it’s a complete tear of the muscle belly. What remains after the tear will be bruising and considerable swelling of the hamstring muscle, at least at first, as well as pain and a feeling of weakness in the hamstring. Onlookers described Barkley as being in a good deal of pain and needing to be helped off the field. This is consistent with a more serious hamstring injury.
Everton’s initial estimate is that Barkley will miss six weeks of action. Of course, this may not take into account the fact that Barkley has had very little training during the preseason, so it may take him longer to get himself into game shape. Barkley also has to be wary not to push himself too quickly, as athletes who suffer hamstring injuries may be susceptible to setbacks if they try to rejoin play too quickly.
With Barkley returning to action in early October – the best-case scenario at the moment – it will be difficult for Everton to find a suitor in the current transfer window. Clubs like Tottenham, Arsenal, and Chelsea have balked at the high price Everton has put on Barkley, resulting in no official offers at this point in time. Those clubs will be even less motivated to match Everton’s asking price for Barkley now that he’s coming back from a serious hamstring injury.
Everton is now between a rock and a hard place. The club wants to cash in on the sale of Barkley, as well they should. He’s 23 years old and already has 150 Premier League and 22 international appearances under his belt. At the same time, there’s little chance he signs an extension with the club, and Everton risks him leaving on a free transfer if he plays out the season in Everton blue.
Even when Barkley returns to full health, presumably in October, Everton may have little use for him. The Blues are expected to add Swansea City star Gylfi Sigurðsson to an attacking midfield group that also includes Wayne Rooney, Kevin Mirallas, Tom Davies, Yannick Bolasie, and Davy Klaassen. Such a lineup would make it difficult for Everton to showcase Barkley ahead of a potential transfer in January. Not to mention Barkley may not be thrilled to still be at Everton.
Waiting until January to sell Barkley would also hurt his value. At this point, however, that may be Everton’s only option. There’s little chance they get anywhere close to the amount they desire for an injured Barkley. Their best bet appears to be hoping he recovers and taking their chances in January, as a Grade 3 hamstring tear appears to have put the kibosh on Barkley being sold during the summer transfer window.