Ross Barkley claimed he never thought of leaving Everton this summer after signing a new contract he believes reflects the club’s intent to bring trophies and Champions League qualification back to Goodison Park.
The 20-year-old interested Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea following his breakthrough season under Roberto Martínez, and was linked with United even before then, but ended speculation over his future by signing a four-year deal with Everton on Tuesday .
Barkley’s salary is understood to have doubled to £60,000 a week plus bonuses under a contract that “reflects his new role and development”, according to the Everton manager.
Barkley scored seven goals in 38 appearances for Everton last season and played nine times for England, including their three games at the World Cup. That intensified interest from rivals and the debate over whether the boyhood Evertonian, like Wayne Rooney and others before him, would quickly depart for richer climes.
But Barkley said: “I never thought about it. This contract means everything for me. It is my dream to play for Everton. This is the club I love and I see it as home. We’ve got to push on now and one of the objectives is the Champions League.
“The contract says that we are hoping to push on and win silverware. It shows the club is keeping its best players like it did last season when Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman and a few others signed new deals. That brings stability and shows we want to push on together.
“I realise the importance of signing because I remember how I felt when Wayne left. He was one of the best players in the team and we thought we could push on with him at Everton. When he left we were all down as Evertonians. I just wanted to sign and hopefully we can push Everton on together.”
Martínez, who has also signed a new long-term contract at Everton this summer, reiterated that Barkley is far from the finished article but has the potential to be revered at Goodison. He said: “When you talk about assembling a squad for the new season this is the biggest news you can get.
“There is still a long way to go in his development but he is a massive part of our squad. Every Evertonian will tell you Ross Barkley is the kind of player you buy a ticket to see. He brings back memories of some of the legends we’ve had at this club and the best is yet to come.”
Barkley, sitting alongside Martínez, appeared embarrassed by the eulogy and caused his manager’s eyebrows to rise by insisting one of his aims for next season is to play more games in central midfield, one department where Everton are well stocked following the summer signings of Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic.
The Wavertree-born midfielder said: “I’ve got a long way to go to be an Everton legend. Hopefully one day I am but I’m just concentrating on doing everything right in training and on the pitch.”
Everton also hope to make Romelu Lukaku their club record signing from Chelsea and Martínez revealed he wants three attacking additions to the squad.
Lukaku enjoyed a successful loan stay at Everton last season and has several options, while Monaco’s Lacina Traoré is also on Martínez’s list.
“I want to bring in three attacking players that are all different,” the Everton manager said. “We know our priorities and the names we are working on. We’ve got such a good squad that whoever comes in needs to fit in and add something extra. If it has to be the last day of the window, so be it.”