Everton manager Roberto Martinez has lauded Ross Barkley’s commitment to the club, after the 20-year-old signed a contract extension last month to keep him at Goodison Park until 2018.
Having come through the side’s youth system, Barkley enjoyed a breakout season in 2013-14, scoring six goals in 34 league games to help the Toffees to fifth-place finish, while also establishing himself in the England setup.
A part of Roy Hodson’s 23-man World Cup squad, the versatile midfielder had been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City earlier this summer, and Martinez believes the new deal is a testament to his footballing character, as well as to the direction the club is heading.
‘It’s something quite rare, which is a player who knows his best environment,’ he told Sky Sports News.
‘Ross was the one who wanted to stay at Everton, and wanted to carry on developing to fulfil the potential that he has.
‘For me it was most satisfying to see that Ross wanted to be an important player at Everton and wanted to carry on developing at our football club, which allows you to have that continuity after the season that we had.
‘It’s important that we face Europe and all the demands this season with the strong backbone that we have, adding fresh blood and new players that will bring something a little bit different.
‘But the fans know that the club makes football decisions and is a strong position that we can plan our future in a great manner.’
Along with Barkley, two other Everton youngsters have committed their futures to the club this summer, with Seamus Coleman and John Stones also penning new deals, and Martinez now looking to tie James McCarthy down next.
In addition, with Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu following Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic and £28 million record buy Romelu Lukaku into Goodison in recent weeks, the Spaniard’s side are starting to become a popular outside bet for a top-four spot.