Everton is still 'the best team' for mooted Tottenham Hotspur target Ross Barkley according to former Toffees defender Michael Ball, who thinks there may be problems within the 23-year-old's camp at the moment.
Barkley's spell with his boyhood club looks likely to come to an end this summer after he rejected a lucrative contract offer from Everton, who are currently pursuing Swansea City's £50m-rated playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Tottenham have long been interested in the vaunted England international, who is looking for a "new challenge" according to Everton manager Ronald Koeman, but are reluctant to meet Barkley's wage demands. Mauricio Pochettino's side are also unwilling to shell out of a fee of £35m for the Everton academy product, who had a price tag of £50m placed on him earlier this year.
Ball, who spent five seasons at Everton between 1996 and 2001, does not think all is well with Barkley at present and cannot understand why he wants to leave his boyhood club when they are on the cusp of a very exciting period in their history.
The former Manchester City and Rangers full-back, who worked under Koeman while at PSV Eindhoven, still believes that Everton is the best place for Barkley to play his football and is intrigued to see where the Wavertree-born attacker will end up at the end of the transfer window, with a move to Tottenham far from cut and dried.
"It looks like Ross Barkley is on his way," Ball wrote in his column for The Liverpool Echo. "Ronald Koeman coming out last week and confirming what we all suspected has more or less drawn a line under the matter regarding the player's future at Everton.
"Koeman has made his decision and he won't be undermined. I'll be sad to see Ross go. Whether he feels he needs to move on to kickstart his career, only he will know.
"Okay, he hasn't quite hit the heights we thought he would. But he's a Blue. He was offered a good contract and these are exciting times with a team that hopefully is going places. So for Ross to want to leave, something is clearly not quite right in his camp. It'll be interesting to see where he ends up.
"But Ross still has a lot to offer at Everton. Personally, I still think we are the best team for him."
Everton have already signed attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen this summer and are seemingly closing in on Sigurdsson, with Swansea stalwart Leon Britton "expecting movement" over that transfer in the coming days.
The arrival of Sigurdsson would essentially call time on Barkley's Everton career, but Koeman revealed last week that the Blues have not received an offer for the playmaker from Tottenham or indeed any club this summer.