Why Everton Can Deal with Ross Barkley Starring at World Cup 2014

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Why Everton Can Deal with Ross Barkley Starring at World Cup 2014
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English eyes are well and truly fixated on Ross Barkley.

A couple of strong showings in World Cup warm-ups and the Everton youngster is already the first name on the lips of media and supporters alike.

Roy Hodgson has done his best to quell the demand to see increasing amounts of Barkley, yet the clamour and hype continues to grow.

Exactly 10 years ago, Everton were in a similar situation with another academy product, the then-18-year-old Wayne Rooney.

His Euro 2004 success saw him depart Goodison Park soon after the summer's festivities, yet the Toffees are far better placed to handle any similar scenarios.

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Rooney's stunning imprint on Euro 2004 announced the striker on the world stage, propelling him into a fierce transfer saga for the rest of the summer.

Manchester United and Newcastle wrestled for his signature for most of the transfer window, with Sir Alex Ferguson eventually getting his man for £27 million, per BBC News.

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Back in 2004, however, things were vastly different on the blue half of Merseyside.

Everton regularly languished around the lower reaches of the Premier League table, more often tipped for relegation than a top-half finish.

A dismal campaign had just concluded with the Toffees in 17th position, one place above the relegation zone, making it seven bottom-eight finishes in eight miserable years.

Even a moderately promising player would be forgiven for seeking an escape route.

Given his rapid rise and the limited prophecies the Toffees could spin, Rooney's stay was always likely to be brief following four key goals in Portugal.

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Fast forward 10 years, and while the scenario may be similar, the landscape's vastly different at Goodison Park.

Barkley has seen his club enjoy success over the past decade, almost from the moment Rooney left.

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All but one of those 10 subsequent seasons have brought a top-eight finish as well as several European challengeswith a fourth and three fifth-place finishes the best returns.

Thanks to foundations built by David Moyes and Roberto Martinez's new, innovative visions, the Toffees currently pose a genuine challenge for a Champions League finish.

This in itself is an inviting proposition for most players, let alone a boyhood fan of the club such as Barkley. It completely contrasts the equation facing Rooney in 2004.

While Everton rarely splashed out a decade ago, Martinez is also likely to further strengthen his squad this summer.

No money spent in January was a deliberate ploy to save ammunition for some summer spending, a tactic to recruit new faces for next season's return to Europe—another factor to entice Barkley.

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There's also the element of approach under Martinez. While the Everton of 2004 may have been defensive, direct and far from entertaining viewing, the Catalan's side practise one of the more attractive styles in England.

As Barkley matures, he will become one of the key parts of a fluid, attacking system that will rapidly advance his game.

Away from playing conditions, Everton have also become far more resilient in the transfer market. 

Persistent interest in the likes of Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka have been rebuffed, and while key names have still departed the club, it's generally been with the manager's consent.

Since Rooney, Joleon Lescott and Mikel Arteta were arguably the only names to leave against the manager's wishes, which was rarely the case in 2004.

Should Barkley tread a similar path to Rooney this summer, he will undoubtedly be bandied about on back page after back page, linked to all comers with new transfer "exclusives" mooted each day.

Back in 2004, it would have inevitably led to a move; in this present day, however, don't expect the 20-year-old to be leaving Everton quite so soon.

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