The precipitous rise to prominence of 20-year-old Everton starlet Ross Barkley will culminate this summer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he is set to play a leading role for England.
The precocious young talent will be in the shop window this summer. If he showcases his undoubted ability on the world stage then it could trigger a bidding war among Europe’s top clubs vying to secure his services for next season.
Yet the one club who would benefit most from the shot in the arm of Barkley’s signature would be Manchester United, who are absolutely crying out for a young preferably English - creative talent. The Old Trafford club looked so pedestrian in the middle of the park last season and were out classed and overrun in the engine room on many occasions, particularly against the top clubs.
It is clear that the likes of Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverly are not the answer for United, who will have to reinvest heavily in their midfield if they are to restore their pre-eminent position among the Premier League's elite. This is why the club must issue a strong statement of intent by making the young Englishman their first marquee signing under Louis van Gaal, and they should strike while the iron is hot and sign him before a ball is kicked in Brazil.
Of all the young exciting English talents who have been taken to the World Cup by Roy Hodgson, Barkley looks to be the pick of the bunch after having such a breathtaking impact in his breakthrough season in the Premier League. The young Scouser is the most exciting prospect to emerge from the Everton youth academy since Wayne Rooney, and his capture for United would send similar shockwaves through English football the way it did when Rooney signed on the dotted line for United after his peerless performances for England at Euro 2004.
However, United cannot afford to rest on their laurels and wait until after World Cup - they must move decisively and sign Barkley now or they may risk being at the back of a very long line of clubs desperate to secure the signature his signature after the action finishes in Brazil.
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