Everton manager Roberto Martinez may have just done England a very big favour.
In reassuring the Goodison Park faithful that Ross Barkley would remain at the club next season, the Spaniard did more than just stamp out the ongoing speculation surrounding the supremely talented midfielder. He also ensured Barkley goes into the World Cup with no doubts over his future – at least in the short term.
While the likes of Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw look set to head to Brazil unsure where they will be playing their club football next season, there is no such concern for Barkley.
Yes, a whole host of clubs would love to take the 20-year-old off Everton’s hands. But Martinez ruled that out in comments he made earlier this week.
When asked if there was a possibility of selling him this summer, Martinez told reporters, “No, because that would be wrong for him.
“Ross is a phenomenal talent, probably the best English talent I have ever seen. But he is not the finished article yet and you need to be very careful.”
You sensed he was referring as much to the media with that last sentence as he was his own club.
After all, the English press have a habit of building players up early then knocking them down when they fail to live up to the media’s own inflated expectations.
You sense with Barkley that will not be a problem, but he has some way to go to be the outstanding all-round midfielder many are predicting he will become.
The stories will no doubt continue regardless, and if the Everton starlet has an outstanding World Cup – or even just one outstanding match within it – expect the rumours to intensify.
But in stating that Barkley will remain at Everton for at least another year, Martinez has ensured the youngster goes to Brazil with just one thing on his mind – doing his utmost to help Roy Hodgson’s side get as far in the competition as they can.