Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Does Barkley Have the Quality to Make a Fist of It at Spurs?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Does Barkley Have the Quality to Make a Fist of It at Spurs?

Article excerpt

Byline: JamesOlley at the heart of London football @JamesOlley

THERE may have been a few managers who felt like taking a swing at Ross Barkley from time to time.

Everton boss Ronald Koeman's frustration reached a new level on Sunday, when he admitted the 23-year-old will be sold this summer if he fails to agree a new contract -- a twist in Barkley's story overshadowed hours later, when it emerged he was the victim of an attack in a Liverpool city centre bar.

Tottenham are unlikely to be put off by the incident -- described by his agents as an "unprovoked" assault -- and will lead the chase for him this summer, as first reported by my Standard Sport colleague Tom Collomosse in December.

Despite Barkley having just over one year left on his contract, he is likely to cost in excess of PS30million, meaning Spurs may have to pay a club record to land their man. But would he automatically improve their starting line-up? With everyone fit, would he get in? Barkley (left) produced flashes of his quality in last week's 4-2 win over Leicester but is yet to deliver on his huge potential; Koeman suggesting before Christmas he was "not sure" he ever would.

He rightly came in for criticism after an anonymous display against Liverpool, after which former team-mate Leon Osman joined a list of sceptics by declaring Barkley has "not kicked on" since breaking into the side at 17.

Mauricio Pochettino's record in developing young English players is impressive and it could be Barkley needs a change of scenery.

Comparisons with Paul Gascoigne were always premature but, after 177 appearances, the debate continues as to whether he can dictate the outcome of the biggest games.

Former England manager Roy Hodgson publicly chastised Barkley for his wastefulness in possession and privately admitted concerns about his stomach for the fight. …

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