Rumoured Tottenham Hotspur target Ross Barkley was the headline omission from a 25-man Everton squad who departed Merseyside on Tuesday night (11 July) for the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam, where the club are set to face 15-time Kenyan champions Gor Mahia in their opening pre-season friendly tomorrow evening.
The Toffees report that Barkley stayed behind in order to receive further treatment on a groin injury, although his absence is sure to add yet further fuel to rumours that he is set to leave Goodison Park this summer.
The 23-year-old has now entered into the final year of his contract with Everton and an extension has yet to be agreed, despite manager Ronald Koeman warning publicly back in April that a failure to re-sign by the end of the season would result in his departure.
It was previously reported that Barkley had been offered a new deal that would see his wages double to £100,000-a-week ($128,533). Tottenham are believed to retain a keen interest in the player as Mauricio Pochettino targets the addition of a new number 10.
Sky Sports suggesting last month that Premier League runners-up Tottenham were prepared to wait for Everton to lower their £50m asking price. Spurs are yet to make any new additions to their squad during what has been a notably lean summer window to date.
Injured Everton defenders Ramiro Funes Mori (knee) and Seamus Coleman (broken leg) also miss the trip to East Africa, as do the likes of Joel Robles, Oumar Niasse and Aiden McGeady, all of whom are expected to leave the club over the coming weeks.
Wayne Rooney was on the plane, however, along with fellow new signings Davy Klaassen and Michael Keane. Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez and Mason Holgate have all been given extra time to recuperate following their recent exertions at the European Under-21 Championship in Poland.
DR Congo international Yannick Bolasie, set to be sidelined for most of the year with a cruciate ligament injury sustained against Manchester United in December 2016, did travel and was treated to a superb welcome upon arrival. Fellow winger Aaron Lennon is also included after returning to pre-season training at Finch Farm following care and treatment received for a stress-related illness.
Koeman has already confirmed that every member of his travelling squad will play 45 minutes against Gor Mahia, Kenya's historically most successful side, as they look to begin building their match fitness ahead of a 2017-18 campaign in which they will be expected to push for a top-four finish.