Barkley 'must stay with Blues'
Published 21/05/2014 | 08:37
Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes the next 12 months are "crucial" in the development of Ross Barkley and that is why the youngster has to stay at the club.
After an impressive season the 20-year-old was named in England's World Cup squad and there will no doubt be interest in the player during the summer transfer window.
Martinez, however, is confident he can hang on to one of his prize assets and continue the progress Barkley has shown since being given a pivotal role by the Spaniard when he arrived at Goodison Park almost a year ago.
The Toffees manager's comments that Everton is the right fit "for the next 12 months" sparked some debate but Martinez clarified his meaning by telling the Liverpool Echo: "It was about Ross' development and how the next 12 months are crucial.
"This is a vital period for him to fulfil his potential and the environment where he will be is everything. The only place is Everton.
"We want him for the long term but these 12 months are crucial."
Martinez said he would not consider selling Barkley even if a huge offer came in.
"It would be wrong for him. As manager you develop a relationship with players and you're always honest with that," he told several national newspapers.
"Ross is a phenomenal talent, probably the best English talent I have ever seen, but he is not the finished article yet and you need to be very careful.
"It's our duty to protect him and I know Everton is the perfect place for him for the next 12 months.
"In football obviously you can never speak about the future.
"Obviously we need to come along and try to get into the top-four positions to offer players like Ross the next stage of their development.
"Ross is delighted at Everton and feels very much that he is in the right place at the right time of his career."
Barkley's current contract, signed in December 2011, does not expire for another two years but he will be offered a new, improved longer-term deal this summer.
Barkley's team-mate Leighton Baines will, fitness permitting, start England's opening game of the World Cup against Italy.
The fixture is a repeat of their Euro 2012 quarter-final encounter two years previously which Roy Hodgson's team lost on penalties.
However, Baines does not believe there will be any thoughts of revenge in Manaus on June 14.
"I wouldn't have thought so," he told evertontv.
"At some point in a tournament, unless you are going to win it, you will get beaten by someone and we did well to be unbeaten until we got knocked out on penalties so I don't think there will be any extra spice to it.
"There is a lot of experience (in the squad): some of the boys have been to a lot of tournaments and know what it is about and we have the element of youth and exciting players so hopefully the two will blend together."