Everton manager Sam Allardyce wants to keep Ross Barkley at the club for the rest of the season but believes the Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur target may already have an agreement in place to leave in January.
Barkley, who is still to play for his club this season after suffering a hamstring injury in August, was on the brink of joining Chelsea on transfer deadline day after the clubs agreed a £35m fee. The England international however decided to reject a move to Stamford Bridge right at the last minute and opted to remain on Goodison Park.
Reports suggest the Premier League champions will return in January to try and sign Barkley, with Antonio Conte still keen to add numbers to his squad. Tottenham have also been credited with keen interest in the attacking midfielder over the last 12 months and are also hopeful of striking a deal in the New Year with a fee for a player about to enter the final six months of his contract likely to drop to just £20m.
Barkley turned down Everton's offer of a new deal in July and an exit in the winter window appears inevitable despite the arrival of Allardyce on Merseyside. Speaking after a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town in what was his first game in charge, he told Sky Sports: "I'd like to think we can keep Barkley, unless someone has already done a deal for him.
"I am not daft enough to know in this game that those words and phone calls might not have already gone on. If we could get Ross Barkley to stay then nobody would be more delighted than me. Whether that is a possibility I do not know.
"For me it is about getting him back in the squad first and seeing where we are from there."