When Tim Cahill hails someone at Everton, Toffees supporters must know they are onto a winner.
The outspoken Australian hasn’t been seen at Goodison Park for a while now but when questioned back in 2011 who the most talented player he’d worked with was, two words were spoken; Ross Barkley.
You could understand that assumption. After all, just seven years prior, Wayne Rooney was making a splash in the royal blue at Goodison Park.
Yet, while Rooney went on to become England’s record goalscorer, Barkley’s career has sadly petered out.
He joined Chelsea and after not receiving the game time he desired, joined Aston Villa on loan last term.
Frustratingly, he couldn’t find form in the Midlands either, scoring four goals and registering a solitary assist.
The plan, so Barkley says, was to play him as a box to box midfielder at Villa Park. It was Dean Smith’s grand plan to link him up with the dynamic Jack Grealish and the effervescent John McGinn.
Though, while those two thrived, Barkley merely watched on and marvelled at someone like Grealish. Only a few years ago, similar words were being muttered about his career instead.
But why is Barkley’s name relevant to Everton in 2021? Well, he still serves as a benchmark for those making the breakthrough from academy football to the senior team.
One man hoping to do that this season is 17-year-old Isaac Price.
The midfielder hasn’t been seen in the first-team yet but he did train alongside the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James Rodriguez last term.
That will have served as a valuable experience for a teenager who’s cut from a similar cloth as Barkley.
Sources have told The Athletic that he is “too good” not to make the step up eventually and words from U23 boss David Unsworth supplement that theory.
Speaking to the Echo, he said of Price back in April: “Isaac is a box-to-box midfielder. He is a great passer, he’s got a bit of everything.
“He still has to develop physically, as you can see, he’s not the finished article physically, but that will come.”
Possessing the ability to join the attack late and bring his team forward with the ball, there are plenty of parallels between Barkley and Price.
However, it’s their passing that’s arguably most similar. For instance, the former once produced 16 assists in two seasons for the Toffees as he really started to make impressive strides at Goodison.
At such a young age, Price has plenty of work to do before he is considered for the first team. Though, with such an exciting array of talent in his locker, it surely won’t be long before he’s unleashed by Rafa Benitez.