Talent Scout: Everton's Ross Barkley
Saturday 17 September 2011
As Mikel Arteta pulled on an Arsenal shirt for the first time last weekend, hundreds of beleaguered Everton fans were out on protest, frustrated at the Spainard's last ditch sale following a summer of failed squad investment.
Fast forward seven days, and David Moyes continues the difficult task of planning for the future. But while positivity around Goodison Park may be hard to find, it's not all doom and gloom.
Step forward 17-year-old Ross Barkley, a self confessed Arteta fan, and a midfielder with all the talent to take his vacant position in the Everton midfield.
Tall and with good upper body strength and consistent levels of power in both short and long range bursts, the Waviertree-born prospect already has the key physical qualities of a Premier League midfielder. Inject determination, solid work ethics and variable levels of positive aggression into that mix, and Moyes has a player who can adapt to almost any situation.
In terms of talent, Barkley has all the baseline qualities. Good technique, quick feet and a confident range of passing. He needs to improve the speed of distribution and timing of runs into the box, but at 17, he's already well ahead of the game.
Speak to those in the know, and they'll tell you Barkley looked destined for a bright future ever since he joined the academy at the tender age of 11.
His development was rapid, but the emergence of Jack Rodwell through the same system meant he was shielded from the hype and allowed time to hone his skills.Yet all Barkley's hard work was under threat almost 12 months ago, when he broke his leg in three places following a collision with team-mate Andre Wisdom during an England Under-19 game. It came at the worst possible time, with Moyes seriously considering adding the youngster to his first-team squad.
He missed around nine months of vital development time, but returned in time for pre-season, desperately hoping for an opportunity.
A start against Villarreal at Goodison Park was the chance he craved, and Barkley took it. A superb first half saw Ross stamp his authority on an experienced midfield, proving to be rugged in the challenge and confident in possession. It was a key moment, a turning point in his battle with injury.
Barkley has begun the season well, and although the loss of Arteta is a short-term blow, it aids the long-term case of the latest product of Everton's enviable production line of talent.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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