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Chelsea, Spurs ready to chase bargain Everton midfielder in January

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Everton v Watford - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Today’s transfer rumor redux is Everton’s Ross Barkley as the international break slowly trundles along. Though, unlike yesterday’s double salvo of Alexis and Alex Sandro, the Barkley rumor is more of a reminder than a rumor of potential action.

After all, Barkley was all but signed with Chelsea in the final hours of the summer transfer window before deciding to huck it back to Merseyside, much to, above all else, Everton’s chagrin. Barkley leaving Chelsea at the altar not only denied the third promised signing to Conte, but it left Everton without the income they were counting on when they dropped £45m on Gylfi Sigurdsson. Chelsea meanwhile were adamant that this did not mean defeat, and that we would be back in January.

"[Chelsea and Everton] agreed a deal of £35 million and I think personal terms were agreed. After the medical we heard from Paul Martin, Ross Barkley's agent, that he had changed his mind and wanted to reconsider his position during the January window — that is the latest. He is currently injured so I think technically he will be with us because he is under contract for another year, so it is a big surprise, but that is football."

-Farhad Moshiri, Everton chairman; September 2017

Barkley’s reasoning for ditching the Blues was never fully explained, but it’s assumed that it was a combination of being injured (as claimed by Barkley himself) and deciding that maybe he liked Spurs better (as understood when reading between the lines of Barkley’s comments). Call it a reverse-Willian, if you will. Unfortunately for Barkley, Everton had refused to deal with Spurs after Chelsea offered more, and by the time the 23-year-old had his change of heart, the transfer window had slammed shut.

None of that changes Barkley’s Everton future as it is understood. He hasn’t played all season because of his hamstring injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for at least another month. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, him making it very clear that he wants to leave, and Everton making it quite clear that he’s free to go at the right price, there’s little reason to think he will stay at the club beyond January. If Everton want any fee in return for him, they have to sell in January otherwise Barkley walks for free (he will be 24 by the summer, which rules him out from any sort of tribunal-set compensation).

Chelsea were willing to pay a shocking £35m for Barkley — still shocking even if Everton originally wanted £50m — but given the contract situation, the price is now expected to be closer to £20m. In today’s market, for a homegrown player who once held serious top level promise but whose development has stagnated in recent seasons, that’s a downright bargain.

So while Barkley may prefer Spurs, Chelsea have little to lose in keeping our foot in the door and seeing if anything pops out.