Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher says that Everton midfielder Ross Barkley looks ideally suited to his new midfield role following the club’s 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Monday night.
The Merseysiders were without their first-choice central-midfield duo of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy due to suspension and injury respectively for the visit of the struggling west London club.
As a result, Everton head coach Roberto Martinez opted to go with a midfield three of Barkley, Muhamed Besic and Steven Naismith at Goodison Park, and the Spaniard will have been delighted with the results.
In particular, Martinez will have been pleased with Barkley’s display, with the 21-year-old opening the scoring just after the half-hour mark with a spectacular strike.
However, it was not so much the starlet’s goal that caught Carragher’s eye, more the manner in which Barkley adapted to his new deeper role in midfield.
“We saw him in a different, deeper role tonight,” said Carragher after the full-time whistle. “Previously he has occupied the No 10 role where you can perhaps have less discipline.
“He has great range of passing, which is what you want if you want to be a top central midfielder and before he scored the goal we thought he’d been the best player on the pitch.
“Playing in that deeper role he’d had more touches than anyone else on the pitch. In this new role he’s got to be a little more disciplined, not just off the ball but on the ball as well.
“His passing has been good but this is what Barkley is about – running forward, Paul Gascoigne-esque. He’s played in that No 10 role and on the left, but eventually that’s where we’ll see Ross Barkley.”
Meanwhile, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was also impressed with Barkley’s newly formed partnership in the centre of the park with Bosnian holding midfielder Besic, the duo attempting 60 and 59 passes respectively in the game, the second and third most behind QPR’s Joey Barton (73).
“All three in midfield were very good tonight: Barkely, Besic and Naismith,” said Neville.
“And when you think that McCarthy and Barry have been fantastic as a pair in central midfield for Everton for a year now, then Barkely and Besic were particularly impressive.”
In fact, the pair also completed 51 passes each in the match, again joint second behind Barton (62), while they also enjoyed impressive pass completions of 86.4 and 85 per cent respectively.
And when you consider that Barkley made six tackles in his side’s win, the most that the young tyro has ever made in a Premier League game, then perhaps this is where he will now be played going forward by both club and country.