Ross Barkley set to sign new Everton contract

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Ross Barkley
Barkley is enjoying a break-through season at Everton

Everton teenager Ross Barkley is set to sign a new long-term deal to keep him at Goodison Park despite interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Barkley will find himself at the centre of a fight between the Premier League's top three if Everton give any hint they are willing to sell the 17-year-old.

BBC Sport understands Barkley knows of the interest but is happy at Everton.

The club expect him to sign a five-year deal when he turns 18 in December.

Barkley agreed his first professional deal shortly after his 17th birthday but could only sign for two and a half years. He can sign a longer contract after his next birthday and Everton already have plans in place to secure his future.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea counterpart Andre Villas-Boas had been leading the interest in the powerful young midfielder but it is now understood they have been joined by Manchester City as the England Under 21 player's reputation grows despite only making five appearances for Everton.

Local youngster Barkley is regarded as comfortably Everton's finest product since Wayne Rooney and has also impressed with his strength of character in recovering from a triple leg fractured sustained playing for England Under-19s in Belgium last year.

Everton, meanwhile, also remain hopeful that Belgian midfield man Marouane Fellaini will stay at the club and believe they are getting close to persuading the 23-year-old to agree a new five-year contract.

And they are also still in talks with James McFadden over a potential deal for the former Scotland striker, who is a free agent after leaving Birmingham City. McFadden made more than 100 appearances in five years at Everton before joining Birmingham and has also been linked with Wolves and Celtic.