Football

Koeman coy on Barkley's future

Everton boss not sure if 'unfit' midfielder will stay, 
as the pursuit of Swansea's Sigurdsson continues

Ronald Koeman has admitted Everton midfielder Ross Barkley's future remains unclear.

The Toffees boss has repeatedly warned the 23-year-old that if he did not sign a new deal this summer, he would have to be sold given his current contract expires next year, yet Barkley has not penned fresh terms and is still an Everton player.

A groin injury prevented him from travelling with the team to Tanzania for the 2-1 friendly win over Kenya's Gor Mahia yesterday morning (Singapore time), and Koeman was unable to provide any clarity regarding Barkley when asked for the latest in Africa.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, the Dutchman said: "At the moment, it is not a clear situation.

"He is not fit, that's the reason he didn't travel with the team.

"We will see when he is fit and back, but everybody knows his situation, and we will see what will happen."

The uncertainty surrounding Barkley has not prevented the Toffees from being active in this summer's transfer window, with Wayne Rooney, Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen all arriving at Goodison Park.

Koeman, who also lost striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, admits he is still scouring the market for more and it is understood the Merseysiders have lodged a £40 million (S$71.2m) bid for Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson.

"We are close to having the right squad," Koeman added.

"We did really good business, brought really good players who will make the team stronger and give the team competition.

"We are expecting maybe one or two players more to come in. It's really important to already have the players in (when the season starts) because they need the adaptation, to learn how we like to play.

"And of course, we know that we need to be ready in two weeks for the start of the Europa League qualifying.

GOOD BUSINESS

"It's good that most of the new signings are playing now for Everton, and it's credit to the board of Everton that they did really good business, which is what the team needs."

Swansea's American owners, however, say they will not be "bullied" into selling Sigurdsson, who dropped out of the Swans' 10-day tour to the United States on Thursday, just hours before the squad's departure across the Atlantic.

The club said Sigurdsson was not in "the right frame of mind to travel" with so much speculation over his future.

Swansea value the 27-year-old at £50m and, in a statement released to WalesOnline, club owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien said: "At this time, we have not received an offer from any club which represents a fair valuation of Gylfi given his importance to our club.

"We will not be bullied or forced into a decision until a club meets our valuation of the player, no matter whether they believe they have an agreement with the player.

"Any such agreement would obviously be in contravention of Premier League legislation."

Meanwhile, Rooney's fairy-tale return to Everton continued as he marked his first appearance since rejoining with a goal yesterday morning.

The 31-year-old's arcing 30-metre right-footed strike to beat the Gor Mahia goalkeeper in his top right-hand corner had echoes of Rooney's maiden goal for the club against Arsenal back in 2002 - five days short of his 17th birthday.

Collecting the ball 40 metres out in the inside-left position, he took one touch with his left foot, advanced the ball a few metres with his right before lashing home a shot.

"To score for Everton again is a great feeling," Rooney, who has gone back to his boyhood club after 13 years at Manchester United, told evertontv.

"It's something I've been thinking of for the last couple of weeks, once I knew (the move) was happening.

"Thankfully, I've done it in today's game and that 45 minutes will only help."

Jacques Tuyisenge equalised for the Kenyan side with a near-post header before Kieran Dowell smashed home a left-footed effort from 25 metres nine minutes from time to secure a 2-1 win. - WIRE SERVICES

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