I think it’s fair to say it’s not often that a respected veteran predicts you to be “one of the best players we’ll ever see in this country,” yet that is exactly what Martin Keown said about Ross Barkley only a year ago after impressing during his first appearances at senior level.
Barkley soon signed a long term deal with Everton but since then, his first team opportunities have been limited.
This season he has moved to Sheffield Wednesday on loan and has so far shined, scoring four goals in only twelve appearances. He also managed to pick up the owls player of the month and earn praise from his teammates for his performances and potential. However despite all the potential we must remember the names from Everton’s past that have fallen short of what everyone expected of them.
Players from recent memory include James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe and to an extent, Jack Rodwell. They all made an impact early in their careers but in the end their careers were hampered by injury and a failure to break into the first team, therefore one of the main questions is whether Barkley can take his form that he has displayed at Sheffield Wednesday and be able to continue it when he returns to Everton.
One thing in Barkley’s favour is that we have a very thin squad. If we get a couple of injuries then it is very likely that he will get the run of games that he needs to establish himself in the side.
He also seems to have a good mentality, exemplified by his battle back from a horrifying leg break that he suffered two years ago. Teammates have also praised his attitude on the pitch. His Sheffield Wednesday teammate Jose Semedo commended him saying “he wants the ball all the time, he wants to play.”
The form of Everton when Barkley returns may also affect whether he gets an opportunity upon return. If he returns when we are in good form and competing on multiple fronts, it is very likely he will get an opportunity. If however we are struggling then I expect us to field more experienced players rather than youth in which case Barkley will find it hard.
The circumstances have to be right as little things like player form, manager preferences etc can be both beneficial and troublesome for a Barkley.
When Barkley does return to Everton the next year will be a very important period in his career. If he can get a run of games in the side then he should be fine. However if he doesn’t make any appearances at all and is again shipped out on loan, it might be another case of a youngster who couldn’t quite make it.
I personally feel that he will succeed at Everton however it’s really hard to know for sure. Football can be a cruel mistress and sometimes, your career is not necessarily in your own hands.