Manchester United: Jose Mourinho Leads Race for Everton Star

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
Everton's Ross Barkley at Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, February 11. Barkley has reportedly attracted interest from the Premier League's biggest clubs. Mark Runnacles/Getty

Manchester United could pursue a deal for Everton's Ross Barkley, according to reports.

The Manchester Evening News claims United manager Jose Mourinho is engaged in a five-way tussle for the 23-year-old, alongside Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Barkley is one of English football's brightest prospects and has 22 international caps, though his progress has been slower than expected since he broke into Everton's first team at the start of the 2013-14 season.

His improved form this season, however, has coincided with Everton's rise up the English Premier League table. Ronald Koeman's side has won four of its past six league games and sits seventh, seven points behind United. Barkley is the club's top assist provider this season, according to football performance analyst Squawka, with five in the league.

In an ironic twist, Barkley could replace the man he has often been compared to, with Wayne Rooney, who began his own career at Everton, expected to leave United in the summer.