Is Ross Barkley finally living up to his potential?

Is Ross Barkley finally living up to his potential?

The focus is on Romelu Lukaku at Everton, but there is another player making strides under Ronald Koeman who could also be set for a summer transfer. Ross Barkley has promised great things since breaking into the first team as a teenager and he has upped his game in 2017. Although it was a slow start for the midfielder under Koeman, he is now the key man in the team alongside Lukaku and that has caught the attention of other Premier League clubs. Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have both been linked with the 23-year-old, which will invoke fear among the Toffees support as they could be set to lose their two best players this summer.

Barkley struggled in 2014/15 after his breakthrough season the year prior and his inconsistency showed again during the second half of last season. Many saw him as a central figure for both club and country until the beginning of 2016 when his form fell off a cliff. He failed to make a single appearance at Euro 2016 and it wasn’t a surprise given that he failed to make much of an impact at club level during the months preceding the competition.

It was felt that the midfielder needed this to be his best season in an Everton shirt to prove that he was living up to his potential. He had been overtaken by Dele Alli, who had become the nation’s big hope, a label that had once belonged to Barkley. His place in the England team was under threat and he was at risk of stagnating into nothing more than a decent Premier League player. The managerial change at Goodison Park came at the right time for the midfielder and Koeman has certainly helped him adopt a winning mentality. The Dutchman has played at the very top of the game and mediocrity would no longer be accepted. A lot of the Everton players, including Barkley, had become complacent and after a slow start, they are now competing with the top six once again.

The 23-year-old has contributed four goals and seven assists in the Premier League this season. He has become a lot more creative since the turn of the year, with five of his assists coming in 2017. Everton are playing some excellent free-flowing football and that has brought the best out of Barkley. The confidence has returned to his game and it would be surprising if he didn’t contribute more goals and assists during the final nine matches of the season.

To provide some context to Barkley’s form, Alli averages 1.42 chances created, 1.29 key passes and 2.75 attempted shots per ninety minutes. Meanwhile the Everton man averages 2.61 chances created, 2.31 key passes and 2.74 attempted shots per ninety minutes. It is clear that the midfielder is having an influential season and it is great to see a young English talent central to one of the top seven teams in this country. The main difference between the two is that Alli is a bigger goal threat, while Barkley prefers to play a deeper role and look to dominate matches from there.

This summer is going to be crucial for the 23-year-old as there will be interest in his services. As a young English player, his achievements will be heightened as the top six will be looking for homegrown talents. He would be a good option for any of the sides in the top six, but for him personally, Tottenham wouldn’t be the best move. They already have a premium English talent in Alli and he would be forced to play deeper, which wouldn’t completely suit him. Either staying at Everton, or a move to a club that can offer him regular first team football would be better for him.