Tottenham Hotspur’s pursuit of Everton midfielder Ross Barkley lasted all summer, but when it came down the final key moments there were twists and turns all over the place.
On paper the deal should have been a straight forward one. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is one of the England international’s biggest admirers and it is believed that the feeling is mutual when it comes to the 23-year-old Liverpudlian.
With the player’s contract running down and Barkley rejecting a £120k a week deal to stay with the Toffees, Everton boss Ronald Koeman soon declared the club’s desire to move the player on – at a price.
That’s where the problems began. Everton wanted £50m for the player and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had no intention of paying such a sum for a player who would be available for free the following summer, however much his manager wanted the player.
football.london understands that talks broke down early in the window as the club failed to agree on a figure and in the early stages Barkley’s representatives and Spurs were also apart in their salary expectations, caused in part by the fact that the contract the player had rejected at Everton came with a bigger basic salary than what Tottenham’s top earners Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris were on.
However, with bonuses and add ons, the terms with the player were something that could be fixed, but the negotiations with his club could not.
The plan was always to return for Barkley in the final stages of the transfer window when the Toffees might be more desperate to offload him, having spent almost £150m during the summer, including bringing in a flurry of midfielders.
Then Barkley picked up a couple of injuries, one which kept him out of the club’s pre-season tours and then ultimately a more serious hamstring injury that is set to keep the midfielder out for months.
A futher complication for Spurs was the late involvement of Chelsea, who were monitoring the situation after missing out on a number of targets. The added competition for the player’s signature strengthened the Toffees’ hand despite the injury.
Everton did drop their valuation in the final day of the window and Antonio Conte’s side were able to agree a £35m deal. Tottenham also attempted to broker a deal, but they came up against a club that had been waiting for the late move and were unwilling to sell the player to them, knowing they had Chelsea’s interest in the bag and having grown frustrated with previous dealings.
Tottenham were forced to switch their attentions to another summer target, Barcelona’s Andre Gomes. However, the late loan move for the 24-year-old, with a hefty obligation to buy, proved too difficult to complete.
The Catalan giants also decided that after missing out on the likes of Nice’s Jean Michael-Seri and Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho, they could not let the squad player, who turned out more than 40 times for the club last season, to leave without having a guaranteed replacement lined up.
Then the Barkley deal took a new twist as the Chelsea move fell apart.
Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshir explained to Sky Sports News: “We agreed a deal for £35m and personal terms were agreed. After the medical we heard from Paul Martin, Ross Barkley’s agent that he changed his mind.
“He wanted to reconsider his position during the January window, that is the latest we have been advised. “He is currently injured. So I think it is a big surprise, but that is football.”
Barkley’s people claim it never got as far as a medical, but it seems that the player’s desire to join Tottenham and not be forced into a move to Chelsea played some role in the night’s events.
While Barkley recovers from his hamstring injury, the saga will take a hiatus before he returns to action in a couple of months’ time. Whether Koeman reintegrates him into his first team, despite his talent, is another thing with the player intent on a move.
Whether Chelsea return for someone who jilted them at the altar is also doubtful, despite their desire for more homegrown British players.
That would pave the way for Spurs, now in a stronger position, to either finally land the player for a vastly reduced price or, if Everton will still not listen to their offers, take him away for free next summer.
This is one saga that is set for a sequel that might just match the original.