Young Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, a reported target for Manchester United, has something of the Wayne Rooney about him, according to Leon Osman, who has played alongside both players at Goodison Park.

Barkley is enjoying his breakthrough season with Everton having featured in each of their Premier League fixtures, including nine starts, during which time he has found the net on three occasions.

The 20-year-old's impressive performances have led to international recognition with the England seniors, and prompted a flurry of reports that former manager David Moyes is interested in taking him to Old Trafford.

Speculation about Barkley's future is likely to increase as the January transfer window approaches, and Osman has inadvertently fuelled the fire by comparing the player to Rooney at the early stages of his Everton career.

Rooney left Everton in 2004 for a then record fee for a teenager, and Osman believes Barkley may well be the best player the club has produced since the former left for Manchester United.

"During my time with Everton the first-team players have often heard whispers about the next big thing to come through the Academy but, for one reason or another, a lot of them fall by the wayside," he told the Daily Mail.

"But Ross is a special talent who is already physically mature just like Wayne Rooney was and he’s started this season really well.

He’s a naturally shy and quiet lad and it was a massive step-up for him to join the England set-up but the lads have told me that he acquitted himself really well and he clearly has a great chance of making the plane to Brazil."

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