Tottenham Hotspur's pursuit of Ross Barkley looks set to become a whole lot more complicated as Chelsea and Manchester United both ponder entering the race for a player who has now had to undergo surgery on a lingering injury.
According to The Telegraph, Spurs, who have been waiting for Barkley's £50m ($64.8m) valuation to be reduced, run the risk of losing out on one of their key transfer targets as both Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho monitor the ongoing situation with interest.
The same publication reports that both Chelsea and United would be willing to pay the wantaway England playmaker in excess of £100,000-a-week if his asking price does eventually fall.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy may therefore be tempted to move now and avoid any potentially risky late bidding war as the Premier League runners-up attempt to secure their first signing of a frustratingly slow summer window to date.
Barkley has entered the final 12 months of his contract at Goodison Park and reportedly rejected the chance to become Everton's highest-paid player, with manager Ronald Koeman setting a deadline of the end of the 2016-17 season for him to agree an extension or else be moved on.
The 23-year-old academy graduate missed last week's pre-season trip to Tanzania and was also absent from the 25-man squad that flew to the Netherlands on Monday evening (17 July). Such omissions only served to fuel speculation that he is set for an imminent switch away from Merseyside, although Everton maintained that his non-selection was due to a persistent groin issue.
The Toffees further revealed on Wednesday evening that Barkley had gone under the knife in a bid to repair the problem and would be available to play again in approximately four weeks. Such a lay-off would see him sidelined for the opening weekend of the new top-flight campaign.
Ramiro Funes Mori has also undergone more surgery on a severe knee injury and is set to miss another six to nine months. The Argentina defender originally suffered a season-ending torn meniscus during a World Cup qualifier against Bolivia back in March and was hoping to be fit before the beginning of pre-season.
Everton allowed Matthew Pennington to join Leeds United on a season-long loan yesterday, leading many supporters to believe that Koeman is set to swoop for another new centre-back having already spent £30m to land Michael Keane from Burnley earlier this month.
Wayne Rooney, Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez, Henry Onyekuru and Cuco Martina are the other arrivals of a busy summer to date.