Ross Barkley Can Make Up for Everton's Loss of Marouane Fellaini

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2013

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 31:  Ross Barkley of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Everton at Cardiff City Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Everton have to prove they can cope without Marouane Fellaini, a player many perceived to be one of the club's leading players over the past five years. 

Until they pick up a few wins and find the net regularly, his name will feature in several match reports over the coming weeks.

The Belgium international has, of course, followed David Moyes to Manchester United and Everton brought in Gareth Barry and James McCarthy to replace him in central midfield.

However, Fellaini was the Toffees' attacking focal point last season, playing behind the striker, and that role has already been handed over to Ross Barkley. Given extra faith and responsibility, the talented youngster is already flourishing and will help erase the memory of Everton's famous afro.

While Fellaini was certainly influential last seasonespecially up until Januaryhis role began to grow detrimental to his side, as Everton became overly direct and consequently quite predictable.

Situated around the striker, the Toffees would often aim long balls at the Belgian's chest. If he struggled against his marker, then his side appeared unsure of how to play, often looking toothless.

Since Roberto Martinez's arrival, it's been very clear that Everton would leave that style behind them with Moyes. Excluding one or two brief cameos, Fellaini remained in central midfield during preseason and for the opening Premier League games.

Martinez plays an attractive brand of patient, possession-absorbing football built from the back, meaning he requires a more orthodox, technically sound No. 10.

Step forward, Barkley.

The 19-year-old struggled for minutes under David Moyes, sporadically introduced from the bench, and only featured in seven Premier League games during all of last season.

Under Martinez, things have very much changed. Whenever possible, the Spaniard has been quick to laud his youngster's talent and has put the utmost faith in him by making him that pivotal No. 10. 

His trust has paid off, as Barkley has started the season on fire with four accomplished performances, scoring against Norwich and producing an exciting cameo in an unexpected England debut.

His already-polished technique makes him the ideal prospect for Martinez to build around for years to come. He can maintain possession, take on and beat several opponents, and spray the ball around with precision.

The youngster's touch, long-range shot and dribbling ability are all excellent and he's showing signs of finding the necessary awareness to thread balls through to the striker.

At 19, Barkley's still very much developing, but his potential's almost limitless. He can not only help replace Fellaini, but make the Toffees a better team with a more varied array of attacking threats.

After a full season in the team, Everton's decision to sell Fellaini for £27 million will seem an increasingly astute piece of business.