21 Midfielder Everton England
Roaring forward, head up, chest out, nostrils flaring and ball at his feet; in full flight Ross Barkley epitomizes basically everything that would strike fear into the heart of even the most confident defender. He runs with the speed and determination of a man destined to go past his player, even if his touch is a little heavy at times.
Ross Barkley plays with a fearlessness that has quickly seen him anointed as the next great hope of English football whether he wants to be or not. Where Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne have gone before him, Ross Barkley now treads lightly; hoping to have enough time to complete his game before being written off as another player unable to fulfill their enormous potential.
2015 has been…
Barkley and Romelu Lukaku are an envious pairing at the top of the pitch for Everton. Though there are worries that Roberto Martinez’s preference for an eye-wateringly small squad may end up harming his long-term development.
There is already an expectation on Barkley to be a major player in Everton’s season – and that means minutes on the pitch as well as influence in games. He has played all 90 minutes in all but two of his 14 Premier League games so far this season (and he came off in injury time in one of the others). He may find himself run into the ground rather than protected within a larger group.
That said; things have been going pretty well so far this season. He has already matched his best league season with six goals and added five assists to boot. The signs are really good after a less than convincing time in 2014/15. Barkley is maturing as a player and as his 22nd birthday nears later this week, he is convincing plenty of doubters that he has what it takes to be a very good player.
So far Roy Hodgson has shown patience with Barkley when used in the England team. Ross has been far from electrifying but many of those struggles can be explained by the ever-changing make-up of the players around him. The inability of Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere – the assumed first choice pivot for England – to remain fit has seen Barkley spearhead frequently different trios in the centre of the pitch and even end up in scarily similar parts of the pitch as Wayne Rooney. They are yet to figure out how to complement each other.
If everyone is fit, Barkley won’t start England’s first game of Euro 2016; but if the last two years are anything to go off then everyone won’t be fit and Barkley will be part of the team. A lot will depend on his ability to adapt to suit Rooney’s game as the England captain ultimately rules the roost in Roy Hodgson’s squad.
Barkley should be ready to run the team by 2018 assuming he is smart about prioritizingquality playing time over trophies/success across the next two or three seasons.
C+ Starting to kick on
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