Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has strongly denied that his club are plotting a large January move for Everton star Ross Barkley, despite the rumours becoming more and more frequent.
In the last 24 hours the Citizens have once again found themselves linked with a £50 million bid to land Barkley, with Liverpool and Chelsea also said to be in the fray for his signature.
However, looking to refute speculation whilst it remains in its early stages, Pellegrini has ruled out a January swoop for the England international, reaffirming that the club simply can’t afford to be spending such sums of money at the moment.
When quizzed by Sky Sports, the Chilean replied: “Every time I’m asked the same question I say the same answer; I don’t talk about rumours.
“We are not trying to bring anyone to our squad at this moment. I’ll repeat once again that we have in important restriction in money and the amount of players that we can have in our squad.”
What the papers say
According to earlier reports - the ones which Pellegrini has so spectacularly squashed - Barkley was being lined up as a long-term replacement for the usually unerring Yaya Toure. The Ivory Coast midfielder has yet to find his form this campaign, having been sensational during City’s march to the title last year, and the speculation that his club are looking to prepare for when he does exit continues to be a hot topic.
Interestingly it’s also the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea who are keeping tabs on Toure, which means that they may have been prepared to let Barkley join City in order to get there hands on a finished product, rather than a player who is going to take time to develop.
Nevertheless both will be happy by Pellegrini’s admission, as it essentially means that they won’t have to compete with City’s notorious spending power if it comes to bidding for Barkley. One team both Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers will be wary of fighting is of course Manchester United, with Louis van Gaal set to spend more money in January to add to his already impressive squad.
The Red Devils found themselves in the mix to sign Barkley over the course of the summer and, should deals for Kevin Strootman and Arturo Vidal once again fall through, the 20-year-old would be a wise alternative.
Will Everton let him leave?
Naturally most Everton supporters would be confident that Roberto Martinez won’t be in the mood to sell, particularly given how much they’ve missed Barkley’s influence early on this season. The youngster has plenty to learn but has already established himself as capable at the highest level, and he’s become one of The Toffees most important assets.
It’s reflected in his price, and as such no team will be able to get him for much less. If a £50 million offer is submitted then Martinez will have plenty to think about, but even then he could make plenty of Merseysiders angry by relinquishing a player of Barkley’s potential.