Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly keeping tabs on Everton’s prodigy Ross Barkley and could table a bid for the midfielder when the January transfer window opens.
Mourinho has made it clear to owner Roman Abramovich that he wants to attract the best young players in the world to Stamford Bridge and Barkley is one of many players on his hit list.
The 19-year-old is being billed as the next England superstar, who could fill the void left by Steven Gerrard over the next five years.
Chelsea scouts have been in the stands watching the England international on a couple of occasions this season, including when Barkley put in a remarkably impressive performance against Norwich City – a game in which he scored a sensational individual effort.
Although no official offer has been tabled from Chelsea, Mourinho has admitted he made an enquiry for an English player, that wasn’t Wayne Rooney, during the summer transfer window.
Reports suggested that the player in question may have been Barkley, but Everton’s price tag of £25m was enough to warn Mourinho off.
Mourinho said: “I like a young player, a young English player.
“The market is closed but I asked a question to position myself to see where he was. We are speaking about a very young player but his price was like he has 50 caps when he had none.
“The price for English players is very high, the market is very difficult.”
The talented youngster, who was handed his England debut in the 4-0 win over Moldova, will get a chance to show the Chelsea boss a sample of skills up close when the Blues visit Merseyside.
Everton have yet to hit full stride under new manager Roberto Martinez, drawing their opening three games and are friendless with bwin punters at 23/10 to beat Chelsea, who can be backed 15/13.