Everton are lining up a £25m move for Swansea number ten Gylfi Sigurdsson, according to the Telegraph, with both Toffees manager Ronald Koeman and new director of football Steve Walsh understood to have been long-term admirers of the 26-year-old.
Sigurdsson’s gifts are indisputable, including the knack of both scoring and creating goals, as well as his by-now notorious deadliness from free kicks and he was instrumental in the Swans’ Premier League survival last term.
However, signing the Icelander, at 26-years-old in the prime of his career, looks certain to have uncomfortable ramifications for Goodison Park golden boy Ross Barkley.
All bar two of the Liberty Stadium man’s 13 goals across domestic and international appearances last term came in 26 appearances in a central attacking midfield berth, as did two of his four assists.
Barkley was most-often employed in precisely the same position for club and country in 2015/16, making 28 of his 36 starts as a number ten.
There is little doubt that Sigurdsson will pull rank on the younger talent if he arrives for 25 big ones, but on last season’s evidence he would have no divine right to do so.
While the Swansea man bagged an impressive 11 goals and three assists in Premier League action, the Evertonian incumbent was directly involved in two more divisional strikes.
He may have struck three times fewer than the man apparently being lined up to usurp him, but he far outdid his rival in terms of creating goals for others, setting up eight net-bulgers.
The Finch Farm youth product was also a far greater threat moving with the ball, averaging 3.1 successful dribbles an outing to Sigurdsson’s 0.7.
At 22, Barkley is nowhere near realising his potential and it would be deeply unfair to blame him for his part in Everton lacking backbone under Roberto Martinez.
Instead, the Toffees’ inability to choke the life out of a game should be regarded as the failing of those tasked with patrolling the midfield behind him.