Everton might have unearthed the star midfielder of England’s next generation, according to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who has likened Ross Barkley to Steven Gerrard and Paul Gascoigne.
Barkley delivered another dynamic display by powering Everton toward a 3-2 win over Newcastle on Monday, scoring the second goal as he linked superbly with Romelu Lukaku.
Carragher later marvelled over the 19-year-old’s performance, per Sky Sports:
Barkley's not a striker who likes to drop deep like a (Dennis) Bergkamp or a (Gianfranco) Zola, he's more of a midfielder who likes to go forward similar to how Steven Gerrard was in that position under Rafa Benitez ...
I'm not saying Barkley's totally similar to Steven Gerrard; I think he's got a bit of the (Paul) Gascoignes about him in terms of running at people in central areas. Normally you see wide players running at people and you don't normally see that.
Barkley certainly has plenty of the natural attributes Gerrard possessed at the same age. Still a teenager, he already has the strength and drive to knock players off the ball, while his stride makes him deceptively quick.
The youngster also boasts a vicious shot from range, as shown by his goal at Norwich earlier in the season, while his link-up play with Lukaku already looks a dangerous combination.
Barkley has followed a similar path to Gerrard through his formative years, suffering a broken leg three years ago that threatened to ruin his future in the game.
Gerrard had to come through similar adversity but has gone on to play over 600 games for Liverpool, winning every major club honour other than the Premier League.
For a period of his career Gerrard functioned as the second striker behind Torres, much as Barkley is doing behind Lukaku now. Carragher believes the combination could be deadly, per Sky Sports:
I was looking at it from a Liverpool point of view. Remember that partnership of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard a few years ago?
It just took me back all those years when I'd see Torres up the front and Gerrard just behind feeding him. That's something similar and there was a lot of good link-up play from them tonight.
Everton are currently fourth, a point behind Liverpool after six games of the 2013/14 campaign. Their start to the season will already have fans wondering if a Champions League place can be achieved under Roberto Martinez.
Will Barkley be as good as Gerrard?
Gerrard has told Barkley to stay at Everton in order to develop, per BBC Sport, but the temptation to leave will grow stronger if the Blues cannot offer the youngster Europe’s top platform in the future.
For years Liverpool battled to keep Gerrard on Europe’s biggest stage, eventually winning the Champions League in 2005—the year the skipper almost left.
Barkley’s excellence is likely to land Everton in a similar spot, but if it drags the club to new heights it will be a problem Martinez will welcome.