Former Everton striker says midfielder is vital to European charge

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Former Everton striker Tony Cottee has told Talksport that the Toffees must keep hold of midfielder Ross Barkley if they are to continue to challenge in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old England international has been a mainstay in the Everton side since breaking into the first team having come through the academy.

But since Ronald Koeman took over at Goodison Park from Roberto Martinez in the summer, Barkley has struggled to excel and the report claims he is now considering his long-term future.

Kane Barkley

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Cottee didn’t hold back in his view that selling Barkley would seriously damage any chances Everton have of pushing up the league and challenging for a top four place.

“What Barkley needs to do is play regular football and I think that’s probably why he’s delaying it [signing a new contract],” he said.

“He has been a bit in and out of the team and Ronald Koeman has been a little critical of him, but he’s a fantastic talent.

“The fans have been a bit impatient with him as well, but he’s trying to do the hardest part of the game – create and score goals – and you’ve got to be patient and understanding with him.

“But keep him at Everton. I don’t want to see him leave. I want him to stay at the club and help get them back into Europe.”

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