England have been waiting some time for the emergence of a player we can call ‘the new Paul Gascoigne’. Maybe, just maybe, we have finally found him in the shape of Everton’s exciting midfielder Ross Barkley.
Just as Gazza lit up Italia 90, Barkley is showing signs that he could be the young man to shine at Brazil 2014. Roberto Martinez and Roy Hodgson are excited, and a growing number of football experts are forming the opinion Barkley is an England star in the making.
The 20-year-old, who was a man of the match performer in Everton’s draw at the Emirates, has already won three England caps and has been tipped for a place in the squad for next summer’s World Cup finals. Memories of Gazza in 1990.
Former Liverpool skipper and top TV pundit Alan Hansen says: “I don't think there's any doubt that if Barkley doesn't injured he's going to be top of the tree. He has got absolutely everything."
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker says ‘he has a bit of Gazza about him’ and Everton boss Roberto Martinez is in no mood to disagree as he likens his rising star to Michael Ballack as well as the England midfield legend.
"I can see some Ballack in him and some Gazza," the Spaniard said. "Ross has incredible potential. We need to give him time and accept he is not ready yet - that will take time, but he has absolutely everything."
Martinez added: "Roy Hodgson needs to decide what role he wants for Ross, if any. We have to make sure we give him at least another 50 starts to see his evolution.
"Any player with talent needs to develop an understanding to know how to be effective. As a country we need to be a little bit more protective about our youngsters, because if we look after him properly he can give us something unique in English football and to the nation.
"I've never seen an English player with that sort of mentality. He has great balance with both feet, he's strong, powerful, has awareness and you can compare him against the young Brazilian, Dutch and Spanish players."
Barkley wasn’t the only young Goodison star to earn high praise from his manager at the weekend as Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu stepped off the bench to score a magical equaliser against Arsenal, to further confirm Martinez’s view that he has another gem on his hands.
And one that he wants to keep beyond the year-long contract agreed with Spanish giants Barcelona. "We have an agreement to extend the loan for an extra year if Barcelona don't need Deulofeu," said Martinez.
"He has incredible pace and I've never seen a player so quick with the ball. You've got certain players with raw talent who can create from nothing with a special touch and he is one of them.
"I always thought he'd take until February to learn how to deal with the league but he's surprised me. He's very arrogant in the right way and today's finish is exactly what he deserves."