A “special” Ross Barkley has all the attributes to become as good as German midfield great Michael Ballack, according to Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
England midfielder Barkley scored a stunning solo goal and orchestrated Everton’s 3-1 Premier League win against Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park on Monday with a man-of-the-match display.
The 21-year-old operated in a relatively unfamiliar holding role alongside combative Bosnian Muhamed Besic and dictated play with an array of exquisite passes, powerful surges and forceful tackles.
Martinez had previously likened Barkley to the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea midfielder Ballack who was awarded the 2002 UEFA Midfielder of the Year for a series of consistently dominant and inspirational performances.
The three-time German footballer of the year won 98 international caps and was widely regarded as one the most complete midfielders of his generation.
After Barkley’s performance against QPR, Martinez said their was no reason the England international could not develop into as complete a midfielder as Ballack.
“Yes, absolutely,” Martinez told Sky Sports.
“The big enjoyment working with Ross is how quickly he takes concepts on and how quickly he experiments with different starting positions.
“As you know the power and pace that he has, combined with that technical ability and ball control, makes him special.
“Sometimes you get a really talented footballer who is skilful on the ball or a powerful and strong player that can show that physicality on the pitch.
“He’s got both.”
Barkley’s breakthrough season last year prompted rave reviews and a place in England’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil where he played all three games.
Barkley was utilised in the number 10 position behind Romelu Lukaku with whom he formed one of the most dynamic attacking duo’s in the Premier League.
“As you know he’s played in that number 10 role, getting into the box and having the freedom to find good space,” Martinez said.
“In a deeper position he makes very good decisions on the ball and the link up play today was very, very good at times and it’s good for him, at such a young age, that he experiments in different roles.”