Ronald Koeman does not believe Ross Barkley will consider leaving Everton as a consequence of being attacked in Liverpool city centre but has told the midfielder to decide his future by the end of the season.
Barkley has been contacted by Merseyside police after CCTV footage emerged of the England international being punched in the face by an unidentified man in a Liverpool bar early on Monday. Koeman has no issues with the 23-year-old socialising following Everton’s 4-2 win over Leicester City on Sunday, explaining the player was driving and not drinking alcohol, but advised against venturing into bars in the city centre.
The incident came hours after the Everton manager reiterated that Barkley will be sold this summer should he decide against signing a new contract. However, he does not think Barkley will seek a move as a direct result of being attacked.
Koeman said: “I am not concerned, no. He’s a local boy and OK, it’s a little bit about what happened in town in an evening, although I don’t know what happened. On one side it’s really nice to be part of that passion of the fans and the clubs in Liverpool, but on the other side you have to look out for these kinds of things and that is what the boy needs to learn from what happened last weekend.
“I go out, yes, but in other places and when people don’t see me it’s better. We spoke about that. Maybe it’s better to stay away from these kind of places but, OK, it’s difficult because then always you like to have a normal life. Also as a football player you know you’re a famous boy in Liverpool – so stay out of that, and maybe it’s the best lesson he’s learned even last weekend. But we will see.”
Barkley has 14 months remaining on his Everton contract and talks resumed two weeks ago with his representatives over a new deal, although there is still no agreement in sight. Koeman insists Everton “need to know the answer before the end of the season” but believes the club is the best place for the boyhood Evertonian to fulfil his ambition of playing Champions League football. “Everton is the best place for him to continue,” the manager said. “I spoke to him a few weeks ago and he said his ambition is the Champions League. I told him I have the same ambition.”
Koeman added: “Before the end of the season I think is the most ideal situation for the club to know what happens with the boy because if you don’t sign a new contract, then we don’t [want] him going through the last season of contract. I think for players it’s normal business. OK, but if you still don’t know that decision by the end of the season then something is wrong. You have situations like in Holland when players don’t sign a new contract and don’t leave. They wait until the Bosman and they go for free. That’s the worst scenario and you don’t accept that at Everton.
“I spoke to Ross and he knows my feelings. It is not necessary to talk again about a new contract. He knows what I like. I also told the club we like to keep the player because he is really a player for the future of the club. The rest is up to the board to get an agreement.”
Everton are in talks with the left-back Sead Kolasinac, whose contract with Schalke expires this summer. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international came close to joining Chelsea in January.