Football

Barkley can be as good 
as Ballack: Martinez

RAVING OVER ROSS: Roberto Martinez (above) says Ross Barkley is a rare talent who has both the physique and technical ability.

A "special" Ross Barkley has all the attributes to become as good as German midfield great Michael Ballack, said Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

Barkley scored a stunning solo goal and orchestrated Everton's 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a Man-of-the-Match display.

The 21-year-old operated in a new holding role alongside the combative Bosnian 
Muhamed Besic and dictated play with an 
array of exquisite passes, powerful surges 
and forceful tackles.

Martinez had previously likened Barkley to the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea midfielder Ballack, widely regarded as one the most complete midfielders of his generation.

After Barkley's performance against QPR, Martinez said there was no reason the England international could not develop into as complete a midfielder as Ballack. "Yes, absolutely," Martinez told Sky Sports.

"The big enjoyment working with Ross is how quickly he takes concepts on and how quickly he experiments with different roles.

"As you know, the power and pace that he has, combined with that technical ability and ball control, makes him special.

"Sometimes, you get a really talented footballer who is skilful on the ball or a powerful and strong player that can show that physicality on the pitch. He's got both."

Barkley's breakthrough season last year prompted rave reviews and a place in England's squad for the World Cup in Brazil where he played all three games.

DYNAMIC

Barkley was utilised in the No. 10 position behind Romelu Lukaku with whom he formed one of the most dynamic attacking duos in the Premier League.

"As you know, he's played in that No. 10 role, getting into the box and having the freedom to find good space," Martinez said.

"In a deeper position, he makes very good decisions on the ball and the link-up play today was very, very good at times and it's good for him, at such a young age, that he experiments in different roles."

- Reuters.