Chelsea chase Toffees star Barkley using Lukaku as bait
Premier League title hopes Chelsea (11/2) are reportedly set to make a bid for Everton starlet Ross Barkley in the summer, and are willing to offer current Toffees loanee Romelu Lukaku as a makeweight.
England international Barkley (4/9 to make the World Cup squad) has managed to play in all but three games this season in the Premier League for the Goodison Patk club, and his consistent and sometimes jaw-dropping displays have attracted interest from elsewhere.
Manchester United were linked with a move for the 20-year-old last summer, before signing Marouane Fellaini, but it now seems that Jose Mourinho has edged his club ahead in the race.
Any deal, however, is likely to hinge on forward Lukaku, who was shipped out to Merseyside outfit Everton this season following a reported bust up with Blues boss Mourinho, moving in the opposite direction.
The big Belgian has impressed for the Toffees this term, as his 12 goals from 25 league fixtures have helped his temporary side to fifth place in the table so far. They now lie just seven points behind Arsenal in fourth, with two games in hand, and Coral price them as genuine top four contenders at 7/2.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has confirmed his desire to sign Lukaku permanently. “[Chelsea] has a big say and [Lukaku] will have a big say,” the Spaniard said. He added: “All I’m concentrating on is that the loan has been a big success. That is down to the eight games (remaining) to fulfil the promise.
“From a football point of view he (Lukaku) found it was perfect to be with us and the influence of having Kevin Mirallas from the national team had a big say.”
Martinez did, however, state that he was not looking to sell Barkley, who has scored five in 27 league appearances this season so far.
The former Wigan manager said: “You want to keep your best performers and at the moment we are looking at Ross as being one of the top players for the future and we want to build our future around Ross Barkley.”
Reports suggest that Lukaku would cost £20m on his own, which looks to be too much for chairman Bill Kenwright to cough up, so their attentions could be turned to QPR’s French forward Loic Remy instead, who will be available for around £10.5m in the summer.
Newcastle United loanee Remy had previously stated he would like to play for a top five team next season, and it looks more than likely that Everton will fit that criteria.