It is quite easy to draw distinctive comparisons between Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney: they both erupted onto the footballing scene as teenagers, they are both born and bread 'scousers', and collectively they are sufficiently packed with an overflowing abundance of naturally occurring raw talent.
However, while Wayne Rooney was opportunistically pouched like a gorilla by Manchester United before Everton even had a chance to look up; it is Ross Barkley who has been left... and he continues to remain deprived of fulfilment like a flower in the dark...
When Ross Barkley made his unbeknown debut for Everton in their first home league game of the 2011-2012 season, you could clearly identify that the boy had a special talent, and a boy he was - at the tender age of 18, yet, not dissimilar to Wayne Rooney, he showed a maturity far beyond his years, and even then, at this intimidating stage, he looked like he was indeed, the best Everton player on the pitch by a long shot.
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You have to feel genuinely sorry for Everton fans, because when a spark of brilliance disentangles itself from the depths of the youth system, it is more often than not inevitable that they will eventually leave, although, somehow, Ross Barkley still remains like a root in the ground.
This teenage sensation was actually due to make his professional debut a year prior, but unfortunately he broke his leg in an U19's England International. A massive amount of character, determination, and desire are required to be able to come back fighting and playing after such a horrific career threatening injury, particularly at such a young age - and this is testament to Ross as a person.
It was two seasons ago when the then 19-year-old picked the ball up at the edge of his own 18-yard-box against Newcastle and ran the entire length of the field, instinctively coasting in and around opposing defenders, and then dispatching the ball into the roof of the net majestically, without an ounce of indecisiveness. He developed quickly and was considered good enough to earn him an England call-up, but the rest of the world were unaware of this unearthed gem.
Perhaps the top Premier League teams are missing a trick in relation to the talented Ross Barkley, or is there just something about him that we don't know which is repelling them?
The extortionate amounts of money that teams are splashing out on young British talent could be a defining factor, but that seems ludicrous.
If Manchester City can pay £50,000,000 million pounds for Raheem Sterling, Manchester United can fork out £30,000,000 million pounds for Luke Shaw, and Liverpool can spend £25,000,000 million pounds on Adam Lallana, and Chelsea can put £40,000,000 million pound offers in for John Stones, who isn't even an established England international as yet, then why are none of the these teams placing significant bids for Ross Barkley, who is now a fully fledged English international?
The Everton team that Wayne Rooney rightfully left behind wasn't as great as the Everton team that Ross Barkley finds himself playing in today, clearly, and you could critically argue that playing week in and week out for a team like Everton would be extremely beneficial for the concentrated development of any young English football player, and I would concur, however, although Ross may evidently improve with consistent games and gain invaluable experience; is he ever going to win trophies, or is he going to gain individual recognition if the team he is playing for is not successful?
Can Barkley encourage success at Everton? Something which has proven unattainable for a sustained period. Steven Gerrard was not blessed with an especially abundant amount of top quality team mates during his time at Liverpool, and quite often he would single-handedly win trophies for them - god only knows where they would be without him.
Should Barkley remain loyal to his boyhood club and allow them to build a team around him, or should he move on, given the opportunity?
What would have happened to Wayne Rooney had he carried on playing for Everton? Would he be in the privileged position that he is in today, as England's captain and all-time leading goal scorer, would he have won the same amount of trophies; would he have achieved a similar amount of individual accolades, would he have developed in the same way that he did, playing with the likes of Tim Cahill and Leon Osman, instead of playing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes, to name a few... would he have grown into the man that he is today?
It has been approximately 20 years - four months - 23 days - zero hours - 13 minutes - 19 seconds and counting... since Everton last won a trophy, and not only do they never win anything, you couldn't really say that they ever legitimately compete for anything, either...
Players like Ross Barkley need to be competing for cups and leagues regularly, they need to be prominent figures in the Champions league - season after season, because this is how potential essentially transmutes into greatness accordingly, and this is where the real experience is ascertained. The experience he gains playing week in and week out for a mid-table side, or how Rafa Benitez once so fittingly put it, by playing for a 'small club', is good to have initially, but you need more than that to perpetuate yourself.
To be the best, you need to play with the best. Most players who have ever been considered to be one of the best in the world, have always played for one of the best teams in the world, with the exception of a few, and all of the best teams in the world have the best players.
If you are playing with average players, you are only ever going to be a great player in an average team who happens to stand out. If you are playing with the best players, the weight is off your shoulders, and you are free to flourish and improve and learn from them.
Will Ross Barkley be good enough to emulate Wayne Rooney's successes? Will he be good enough to establish himself into a top Premier League team where so many others have failed before, will he be good enough to play with the best players in the world consistently, and will he be good enough to replicate it over a prolonged period?
Only time will prevail, but one thing is certain - as much as the Everton faithful will hate me for saying this - he needs to move on.
I don't mind if Liverpool are unable to qualify for the Champions League, I am not partial to any particular team winning the premier league, I don't care whether or not Liverpool's best players go to other clubs, I don't care who gets relegated, or who gets promoted, I just appreciate good entertaining football. However, one thing that will annoy me, is in 12 months time if Ross Barkley is still an Everton player...
Which club out of the top four would Barkley be best suited to play for?
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