It is a time of change at Everton and Ross Barkley appears to have no part in their future.
At 24 years-old Barkley is no longer the young, talented midfielder that so many at Goodison Park saw as a pillar to build around, he is merely a talented midfielder. As things go, talent is far more important than youth but being in your late teens and early 20s buys you time and it buys you patience from those in charge. That fluid concept of 'potential' affords you nine lives but before you know it, they have expired, you're in your mid-20s and you're not even the most-adored academy product in midfield, let alone the team.
This is Ross Barkley's journey and while some felt it might take a new turn with Sam Allardyce, it appears to be barrelling down the same route with the new Everton boss admitting that the Englishman is as good as gone come January.
Allardyce revealed that Barkley is likely to leave (Getty Images)
"If someone comes in during January and says: 'Here you go' (with an offer) and the club says: 'Look, if he's not going to sign for us this has to be the case,' then I accept that," Allardyce said, as if explaining the act of bartering to an extra-terrestrial.
"If Ross stays until the end of the season and I feel he is giving 100 percent to the team, like he has done since he was a kid, then he is an available asset for us until he leaves on a free transfer. I would hate that to happen but it might do."
That Le Grand Sam himself is openly discussing such a plan on the day that the Toffees tied down three of the young talents they want to keep - Jonjoe Kenny, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin - to new long-term contracts is not something that will go unnoticed by those in the Barkley camp. Tom Davies' emergence, too, has changed how Barkley is viewed.
Everton tie talented young trio to long-term deals
Despite making 22 England appearances and 150 for Everton, there remains a feeling that Barkley is a slightly unfulfilled promise. A player who could have been the driving, beating heart of an exciting England midfield or, as we now call that role, a Dele Alli. At 24 he is by no means ancient, it should be pointed out. Only in football terms, where players born this millennium are now changing hands for eight-figure sums, and with potentially 8-10 years left at the top, Barkley's suitors have seen enough, surely, to suggest that he is worth that calculated gamble.
Posting pictures to social media this week to remind people that he is still alive, Barkley revealed the horrendous scar left behind by his hamstring operation. Injury has meant that not only has he not played a single minute this season but also that his late-August move to Chelsea fell through. Both sides are still tetchy on the details of that encounter, with claim and counter-claim over whether Barkley failed a medical at the Blues' Cobham training ground or whether he just thought better of a move. The two camps scrambled to get their side of the story out with the haste and care of someone scraping ice from their windscreen on a frozen morning but the picture of what actually happened remains still unclear, frosted around the edges by Everton's need to get some sort of remuneration for their man.
Ross Barkley shows his scars as he plans injury return (Instagram)
Everton believe that the midfielder probably wants and needs a fresh start elsewhere while they embark on their own new path. And in case Barkley hadn't got the message sufficiently, they went out and bought a glut of players who fill the same role as Barkley so he was completely sure of how little they actually needed him to stay. The feeling at Goodison Park is that they can be optimistic again, upwardly mobile after a poor start and with an owner who is rich enough - or supposed to be, at least - to fund a future in the upper reaches of the Premier League.
With a gaggle of talented young players that already play first-team football, some talented imports and a boyhood-blue-turned-valuable-veteran in Wayne Rooney, Allardyce and chums are pretty bullish about the direction in which the club is travelling.
But the club could be falling into the same trap as they did with Barkley.
All talk of potential is exciting because it furnishes people with hope. Fulfilling that potential is always the hardest bit. A parting of the ways for Barkley and Everton seems inevitable but which of the two parties will be feeling better about themselves in 18 months' time is still pretty uncertain.