Both Ross Barkley and John Stones have immense potential, but they are both struggling to consistently show it, and this could be the season that defines their careers.
Stones is still involved in a transfer saga with Manchester City, which has been going on throughout the transfer window, but regardless of whether he moves, both he and Barkley have two new managers to impress in terms of domestic and national football.
Barkley has shown over the years that he has the potential to become a world class player, but he struggles to consistently show it in matches, and varies between being unbeatable to ‘invisible’ at times.
This video below shows what he is capable of.
Ronald Koeman is a great manager to be working under because of his experience developing talent at Southampton, and is more likely to get the best out of Barkley than Roberto Martinez was. This is because of Martinez’s obsession with possession based football is in contrast to Koeman who is much more pragmatic, and therefore more likely to adapt to his players’ strengths.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Barkley is the focal point of the team under Koeman which would allow him to showcase his supreme dribbling ability, and allow him to pick up the ball in key areas in the final third where he can really do damage to the other team using his vision and precise shooting.
Stones is a rare talent – a ball playing centre-back – and is rightly being heralded as the future heart of England’s defence, but he needs to prove this season that the errors he makes currently are just part of his learning curve rather than a cornerstone of his game.
He is only 22 and players of his age often make mistakes, but he is obviously a class above, so he can’t afford to make mistakes due to the level he is playing at and he needs to show that his defensive ability is better than his offensive ability .
This video shows why there is so much hype around Stones.
They will both have plenty of opportunities to play and prove their ability if they stay at Everton, and staying for another season would be a smart decision due to them both being settled. However, Stones could definitely make one of the centre-back starting berths at Manchester City his own if he does move, and he could definitely learn a lot under Pep Guardiola due to the style of play that he loves to play with centre backs being key in this philosophy.
The appointment of Sam Allardyce as England national team manager could be pivotal for both players because of ‘Big Sam’s’ ability to organise teams defensively as well as his preference for wildcard players in creative roles.
The fact that Stones is currently England’s greatest young talent at centre-back as well as the lack of quality English centre-backs means that he is likely to be at the heart of Allardyce’s plans, and he could really benefit from the defensive knowledge that Allardyce brings to teams. Allardyce focuses on making teams solid first rather than improving every player’s ability on the ball, so this combined with Stones’ domestic experience regardless of the club he ends up at could improve both aspects of his game simultaneously.
Allardyce has a preference for players that have flair and bring unpredictability to the team, with Jay-Jay Okocha at Bolton when Big Sam was manager being a great example of this. Barkley is similar in this regard because it’s hard to read what his next move is going to be when he is at his unplayable best, so it’s likely that he and Dele Alli will be the main attacking midfielders in the team.
The managerial career of Allardyce shows that he has a history of getting the best out of these players due to his man management skills, and clever use of statistics. Therefore it wouldn’t be a surprise if Barkley proves himself on the national stage this season in preparation for the 2018 World Cup where he can finally make his mark on the world stage.
Both of the players are 22-years-old going into the season which is important because they still have plenty of time to improve as players, but if they want to continue their meteoric rise into becoming world-class then they need to start consistently performing on a domestic and national level.
The opportunities are there for both of them to take on the domestic and national stage due to the talented managers they are working under, so all that’s stopping them from continuing their progression is themselves.
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