By Simon Evans
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley showed their central importance to Everton's rise towards the top six in the Premier League in the 4-2 win over Leicester City on Sunday but their contract situations remain a concern for manager Ronald Koeman.
Belgian forward Lukaku, the league's top scorer, scored twice to take his tally to 23 this season and he has now scored in the Toffees' last seven home games, which have all ended in victory.
It was Barkley who helped Lukaku bring Everton level at 2-2 in the 23rd minute with a brilliant cross from the right flank which the striker confidently headed home.
That highlighted the contribution the pair have made to the progress of Koeman's team, who currently lie seventh in the table, but the Dutch coach found himself having to talk about contracts as much as goals and assists.
Barkley's contract runs out at the end of next season and he has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.
"We offer him a new contract and then there are two possibilities. One is sign that contract (but) if he doesn't sign the contract, then we need to sell the player. It is simple," Koeman told reporters.
There was a different tone taken by the Dutchman, however, when asked about Lukaku, who has rejected a deal to extend his contract beyond 2019 and is reported to be interested in testing his position in the market at the end of this campaign.
"Everyone knows he is a key player for Everton and we will try to do everything to keep Rom at Everton but always the final decision is by the player," Koeman said.
"Of course we talk a lot about Ross and Rom because they are really important...they can be the difference between us and the opponents, like today. I thought they played really well.
"We know Rom is a great finisher. Ross played really well in between the lines...you want to see your best players performing like they showed this afternoon.
"They were outstanding but the whole team was outstanding. You need those kind of players on the top level because they make difference and that is what we like."
(Editing by Ian Chadband)