In Brief

Everton star Ross Barkley punched in nightclub attack

Goodison Park's divisive midfielder hit in Merseyside nightclub following club's win against Leicester City

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley is at the centre of more controversy after he was attacked in a Merseyside nightclub hours after helping his team to a 4-2 win over Leicester on Sunday afternoon.

The 23-year-old midfielder was in Santa Chupitos cocktail bar in Liverpool city centre in the early hours of Monday when the apparently unprovoked attack happened. 

"CCTV footage... appears to show the 23-year-old having a conversation with a man, who suddenly punches him in the face twice," reports Sky Sports. "Barkley's lawyer said the England international had been approached by the man, who was restrained by revellers after the attack."

Merseyside police said it was "aware of footage online reportedly showing an assault in a bar in Liverpool city centre" and added: "No report of an assault has been received but officers are making enquiries to establish the circumstances of the incident."

The player, who contributed an assist in the win over Leicester, has become a divisive figure at Goodison Park, with some fans unhappy at his progress since bursting on to the scene as a teenager.

"Barkley, who is out of contract at Everton at the end of next season, faces an uncertain future at the club, with Spurs among those interested in signing [him]," reports the Daily Telegraph.

"He did not feature for England last month, despite being named in Gareth Southgate's squad, and was criticised for his poor performance in the recent 3-1 Merseyside derby defeat by Liverpool at Anfield but he impressed against Leicester and set up Romelu Lukaku for a goal with an inviting cross."

Nevertheless, after the game, Toffees manager Ronald Koeman suggested Barkley would be sold this summer if he did not sign a new contract.

Former Everton teammate Phil Neville jumped to his defence, reports the Daily Mail, saying on Sky Sports: "I hope he stays, as an Everton supporter and former player. I hate the people who don't rate Ross Barkley. It absolutely kills me every time I see someone write or speak badly about him."

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