Everton defender Tony Hibbert has compared Ross Barkley to Wayne Rooney, insisting that the youngster could be the ‘next big thing’ in English football.

Hibbert played alongside Rooney before he left Everton in 2004, and after playing with the pair, he insists that there are similarities between the two.

"Wayne was a jack the lad. You could go out on the street with him and get him on the park and he'd be the same - he'd be diving everywhere, going in goal, it'd be madness,” he explained.

“Ross is a bit more level-headed. He's also bigger. Potential-wise I think he is up there with Wayne.

"I don't know if he's a central midfielder or if he is like a No.10 off the forward or on the wing. He has got the feet, the dribbles. With Ross I think you could develop a team around him really, he's that good.

"Really we need to keep hold of Ross. Obviously how the club is with the money situation [may be a factor] but I think he is the next big thing."

Manchester United have long been connected with a move for Barkley, who is said by the Daily Mail to be worth £30 million, and while Chelsea have also shown interest in the 17-year-old, United are said to be front runners for a possible January deal.

And with comparisons being made between Rooney and Barkley, United fans will no doubt be excited at the prospect of the England Under 21 international coming on board.

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