LONDON (REUTERS) - Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth believes Ross Barkley has the potential to become an all-time great on Merseyside and will try to persuade the 23-year-old midfielder to stay at the club.
Barkley refused a contract extension before the start of the season and was close to joining Chelsea on final day of the transfer window, but a move to Stamford Bridge did not materialise.
"I would absolutely love him to stay," Unsworth, who took charge of Everton after Ronald Koeman's sacking this week, told reporters.
"He is a top talent. Everton has done great for him and he has done great for Everton, but he could be one of the all-time greats here.
"He is a great player that has come through our ranks and I feel strongly that we shouldn't be losing our own players."
When asked whether he had talked with Barkley about his future, Unsworth replied: "I have not spoken to him about that since I spoke to the chairman yesterday, but I will be doing.
"I would love him to sit down with me and have a cup of tea and discuss the possibility of signing and staying here, because we love him and he loves Everton."
Barkley, currently out of action with a hamstring injury, is in the final year of his contract at Goodison Park.