While Tottenham may have been the runaway favourites to secure the services of Everton’s Ross Barkley at the beginning of the summer, there is a sense that the Premier League’s usual suspects are plotting to hijack the deal.
According to the Daily Mail, Tottenham’s interest has cooled as Everton have refused to lower their £50 million valuation, with the player’s own £120,000-per week wage demands also thought to be a major bone of contention.
Arsenal and champions Chelsea are also rumoured to be chasing Barkley, meaning that Tottenham’s window of opportunity to complete deal may be closing fast.
The question that remains is whether the England international would represent a good signing for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, as Spurs continue to pursue their first signing of the summer?
Can Barkley provide Tottenham with X-Factor?
In many ways, it is easy to see why Tottenham are reluctant to move for Barkley. After all, signing him would almost certainly require the club to break their wage structure, which is something that is diametrically opposed to Pochettino’s philosophy and focus on developing youth.
Investing £40 million in a player who has just 12 months left on his contract also seems rash, particularly for a club that has so far refused to join their rivals in a summer spending extravaganza.
Neither Chelsea or Arsenal are likely to have any such reservations, however, meaning that Tottenham’s reported stance will likely end with Barkley being snared by a title rival.
The word investment is key, however, as Barkley’s value must be measured by more that his bottom line transfer fee. He just so happens to be the type of player that is lacking from Tottenham’s industrious and athletic midfield, and one who can offer guile, drive and dribbling ability from the centre of the park.
Pochettino’s desire to reinvent Barkley as a central midfielder reaffirms this, with the young Englishman providing a compelling option from deep against teams that look to defend in numbers.
Watching Barkley in full-flow (which was admittedly a rare occurrence last season), you cannot help but be put in mind of a young Paul Gascoigne. The Evertonian certainly boasts a similar physique and core strength, and his ability to carry the ball from the deep represents a rare and invaluable quality.
When allied with his vision and shooting ability, he would certainly offer a more attacking threat alongside a holding player in the mould of Eric Dier or Victor Wanyama, while freeing Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to roam higher up the park.
This is just the type of X-factor that money can buy, while the signing of Barkley would certainly give Tottenham greater diversity in the centre of the park.
Is this enough for Tottenham to break the bank?
Ultimately, the judgement that Pochettino and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy need to make is whether Barkley’s potential and skill-set is worth such an inflated transfer fee? His inconsistency during the last two seasons will certainly weigh heavy on their minds, as will his potential to disrupt the harmony in Tottenham’s seemingly settled squad.
While he would represent a significant risk for Tottenham, however, this may be the type of deal that transforms them from contenders to title winners. He is certainly a player that would add value and diversity to their playing squad, while giving them flexibility in terms of systems and attacking options.
Time will tell, of course, but there is no doubt that Tottenham must move fast if they are to sign Barkley ahead of their big spending rivals.