Folks, we’re into Silly Season. Today’s rumor comes courtesy of Tom Collomosse in the Standard who says that Tottenham have made initial inquiries with Everton over the possible transfer of Ross Barkley as they look to beef up their midfield options and offer more support for Harry Kane.
According to Collomosse, it would probably take a bid of at least £35m to pry Barkley away from the Toffees. He’s a product of their youth academy, but he only has a year and a half left on his contract and appears to have somewhat stalled at Everton under Ronald Koeman. This has, it seems, alerted teams to his possible availability in the transfer market.
So there are some decent reasons why Tottenham might be looking at Barkley to enhance their midfield. Barkley is primarily considered an attacking midfielder at Everton, but can also be deployed deeper in a pivot. When played deeper, Barkley is known as a shuttler, a player who likes to dribble forward with the ball out of midfield. His passing is pretty good, he has a good first touch and he has the ability to get past players and advance the ball capably. In this sense, he could potentially find a role as the more forward of Spurs’ two pivot players in a 4-2-3-1.
However, he’s struggled to make a real impact at Everton, and part of that is that while he can bring the ball forward, once he does so he’s not a particularly effective creative playmaker, and is even worse at getting good shots off for himself. He also has a tendency to give the ball away quite stupidly with an occasional bad pass. The downsides of his game are illustrated very well in this video by TalkingTottenhamTactics:
Spurs don’t especially need another progressive midfielder who’s not great at creating chances, which is more or less what they get with Ross Barkley. He’s pretty good at breaking a midfield press, but he’s not a Christian Eriksen or Luka Modric type of player, and there are doubts that he can be a guy that can effectively set up Harry Kane.
Moreover, £35m (or more!) is a hell of a lot of money for a player who would be, essentially, a poor man’s Mousa Dembele, and that’s not a good comparison either because Dembele has one of the most gloriously bizarre skill sets in the Premier League. It’s not clear that he would offer an upgrade on the likes of Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli, Eriksen, and Erik Lamela farther upfield, and Spurs already seemingly have a capable young central midfielder waiting in the wings in Harry Winks.
I don’t know if I necessarily hate the idea of Ross Barkley at Tottenham Hotspur: he’s an England international, is still young at 23, and he seems like the kind of player that Mauricio Pochettino could mold into something greater (like, for instance, Erik Lamela). However, I don’t like him at Tottenham Hotspur for that kind of money without assurances that he would turn into a key player for Spurs in the near future, and even though he’s struggling, Everton aren’t going to let him go for cheap.
This is a pretty weak rumor as rumors go: no quotes, no real evidence that there’s any actual interest. Poch has already hinted that Spurs are unlikely to make any major moves in the January transfer window, so any approach for Barkley would likely be in the summer. I wouldn’t put too much stock in this, but it’s by far the most interesting Spurs transfer rumor I’ve yet seen this month.