Manchester United

Odds Are Stacked Against Ross Barkley Moving to Manchester United in January

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Ross Barkley of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Sunderland at Goodison Park on December 26, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentDecember 30, 2013

Even for a club the size of Manchester United, it's not enough just to want a player. The player has got to want it, too.

If not, you're just a kid staring through the window of a sweets shop without the money to buy anything.

It's easy to see why United might want to sign Ross Barkley. He's a young, English, creative midfielder. Like Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones before him, he ticks the boxes for a model United signing.

Above all, though, he's a midfielder. A central midfielder. Which makes him worth his weight in gold at Old Trafford.

But while Barkley would fill a desperate need at United, the bigger question is whether he needs United. And the answer, at the moment at least, is no.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Manchester United Manager David Moyes shares a joke with Everton Manager Roberto Martinez (L) prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on December 4, 2013 in Manch
Michael Regan/Getty Images

He's playing for a team sat happily in the Premier League's top four heading into the new year.

But more than that, he's playing. 

He's waited a long time to become a regular at Everton. He made his debut against QPR in August 2011 but last season was sent on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds.

David Moyes, his manager at Goodison Park, will say that his management of Barkley helped his rise, that the odd game for Everton and the experience in the Championship helped him make the breakthrough this season.

And while he would be right in that assessment, there's no escaping the fact that it is Roberto Martinez who has made the 20-year-old central to his plans.

It didn't take the Spaniard long to realise the talent he had after making the move from Wigan in the summer. 

Barkley started the first game of the season at Norwich, scoring his first Premier League goal in a 2-2 draw. So far, he has figured in 18 of Everton's 19 Premier League games, starting 14. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United competes with Ross Barkley of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on December 4, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (P
Michael Regan/Getty Images

He's kept Leon Osman, a veteran of more than 300 Premier League appearances, out of the team, and there are few Everton fans pining for the return of Marouane Fellaini.

He has won his first England caps and, injury permitting, should be on the plane to Brazil in the summer.

Trusted by the manager of the club he's been at since he was 11, performing in a team that is playing well and earning recognition at international level, life is good for Barkley. Very good.

So good, in fact, that it's difficult to see why he would want to leave, especially halfway through his first season as a regular.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18:  Keiran Gibbs battles with Ross Barkley during a England Training session at London Colney on November 18, 2013 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

One day, that might change. Barkley might feel he needs a new challenge or that Everton can't match his ambition to win things, the Premier League or maybe the Champions League. If and when that time comes, he may well consider an offer from Old Trafford

A move to United would allow him to stay in the Northwest and, without trying to predict the future, challenge for trophies.

But you suspect if Barkley is to move in January, it will not only take a huge bid, but also a hard sell from Moyes.

After all, as it stands, United need Barkley more than he needs them.

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