Liverpool (AFP) – Ross Barkley reminded Everton what they’ll be missing if he is allowed to leave as the England midfielder’s cool finish clinched a 1-0 win over Watford on Friday.
Barkley’s future with Everton is in doubt following his refusal to commit to the club by signing a new long-term contract.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has given Barkley a deadline of next weekend to confirm whether he will sign the contract or be sold before the remaining 12 months of his deal expire at the end of next term.
Despite the contract dispute, Barkley was still recalled to the starting line-up by Koeman.
There would be no shortage of teams interested in Barkley and he underlined the qualities he brings to Everton with a solo strike in the second half at Goodison Park.
Seventh placed Everton’s first win in four matches meant they recorded their highest points tally at home for 27 years.
Watford’s fourth successive defeat leaves the Hornets six points above the relegation zone and still not guaranteed to avoid the drop.
Realistically, 15th placed Watford’s superior goal difference should keep them safe, but their poor finish to the season will increase the pressure on under-fire boss Walter Mazzarri.
With Romelu Lukaku linked with Chelsea and Barkley a reported target for Tottenham, two of Everton’s key players were potentially playing their last home games for the club.
Barkley threatened an early goal with a stinging strike that Heurelho Gomes pushed away.
If Barkley moves on, Tom Davies will be the future of Everton’s midfield and the youngster showed his potential when he drove into space for a powerful shot that Gomes saved at full stretch.
After being penned back for long periods, Watford striker Troy Deeney nearly put the visitors ahead against the run of play in the second half when he stabbed wide from Daryl Janmaat’s cross.
But it was Barkley who provided the breakthrough in the 56th minute with his first goal in his last 13 appearances.
With the Watford defence backing off, Barkley was able to advance unchecked before curling a fine finish past Gomes that drew a wry smile from Koeman on the touchline.
Barkley was substituted with 10 minutes left, departing with a wave as a standing ovation from the Everton faithful emphasised just how much they would love the local hero to stay.
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