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Ross Barkley 8

Squad number
Position Midfield
Joined in 2004
Joined from Everton Academy
Signed by David Moyes
Transfer fee No fee
Full debut v QPR (H)
20 August 2011
Contract duration 2 + 4 + 4 years
Contract expires June 2018
Born Wavertree Liverpool
Date of birth 5 December 1983
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Soccerbase Datafile
Wikipedia Entry

When he emerged from the Everton Academy, Ross Barkley was considered one of the hottest home-grown Premier League prospects but his development has been seriously setback by a major injury. He spent a large part of the 2010-11 season recovering from a double leg break suffered on duty for England’s U-17 side.

Barkley was eligible to represent both England and Nigeria as he has an English mother and a Nigerian grandfather. But Barkley has been estranged from his father, Peter Effanga, and using his mothere's maiden name, has opted to represent his country of birth.

Barkley returned to training before the end of the 2010-11 season, around six months after his injury occurred in October 2010, but the versatile box-to-box midfielder would not be fit enough to make his debut for the senior team until the next season.

On returning to fitness, he was promoted to the senior squad and went on Everton's 2011 pre-season tour of the USA, but had an ankle strain that prevented him playing against Philadelphia Union.  However, he started the next friendly, against DC United, and looked very impressive, confident and assured for a relative youngster. This was followed by good partial pre-season displays against Birmingham City & Werder Bremen.

Barkley was viewed by many as the successor to Jack Rodwell and the cream of the current Everton academy crop... so it may only be a matter of time before a move away to the bright lights will be grinding relentlessly through our Rumour Mill.

With no money for new transfers, the only method of team-building open to Everton's then manager  David Moyes was bringing through talent like Barkley from the highly rated Everton Academy.  Will he be nurtured and inspired... or 'protected' and ultimately frustrated?

David Moyes followed this up by not doing his usual trick of denying the lad's talent, instead allowing him his senior debut from the off in the poor home defeat to QPR, where he was Man of the Match, along with starts against Sheffield United in the Carling Cup and against Blackburn, where he gave away a penalty.

And that seems to have been the turning point as Moyes decided he would be mostly playing Reserves games, despite the aching need for his spirit and drive in the first team.  One excuse for the continued 'nurturing' was that Everton needed to get the youngster signed up on a good long-term contract to maximise future sale value, and they could only do that when the player turned 18 in December 2011. 

But that new contract saw no change in policy, with the highly promising player being held back for the rest of the season, while preference in first-team places was given to aging and useless has-beens like James McFadden.  It was later revealed that Barkley had been suffering a niggling injury and, given his history, the very over-protective approach to his development was justified.

But Barkley continued to be overlooked going into the new 2012-13 season, and on the rare occasions when he did get to play, it looked as if somehow that classy confidence had been shot, and his only appearance for the Blues didn't really help with that — a shocking loss to lowly Leeds Utd in the League Cup in September. 

With a surprise number of new players being brought in by David Moyes in the summer 2012 transfer window, it became obvious the promising youngster from Everton's Academy would not be getting much of a look-in, so a month's loan to Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship looked like his best bet.

More loans that season, initially extended at Hillsborough, then a month at Leeds United, along with a clear aversion on the part of the manger to risk any more 'mistakes' from the young prodigy, ensured that he was used sparingly in the Everton first team, despite showing some refreshing potential, and a penchant to try the unexpected.

His chance would come under the next manager, with Roberto Martinez delighting in what the young protégé could provide as an increasingly important midfielder paying behind the front line and driving them forward with some occasionally audacious moves. His 60-yard run and goal against Newcastle will live long in the memory, and his instinctive strike against Manchester City in the last home game of the 2013-14 season was a calling card to England manager Roy Hodgson, who had no option but to put him on the plane to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

There was a sense of delight and relief when Ross Barley signed a new 4-year contract in August 2014 but that was tainted somewhat when he injured a knee in training just a day before the start of the new season and word was he would be sidelined for at least six weeks.  He did not return until eight weeks in but was the inspiration behind a solid performance against Aston Villa that put Martinez's faltering second season back on a better track.

But Ross Barkley never scaled the heights of his first full season under Martinez.  In fact, if anything, he regressed quite shockingly, suffering crises of confidence and lacking the tremendous desire he had shown to run forward with the ball and challenge defenders.  Yes, the marking was a lot tighter, with sometimes three defenders all over him, and his reluctance to shoot meant the goals pretty much dried up.

There were signs that he was simply too slow in his thinking, and too poor in his passing... perhaps lacking a 'Football Brain'? He should have been maturing into a classic No 10 creative playmaker commanding the midfield, but it simply wasn't happening as he seemed more inclined to play return balls with his back to goal, rather turn with the ball, and either progress himself or pick out a good forward pass.

Martinez’s readiness to play him wide at times directly contributed to his regression. The only position he should play is behind the striker, occasionally dropping back slightly from this position, so that he can back up the midfield and drive from deep with men behind him.

At least his poor season in 2014-15 meant that the inevitable transfer talk would hopefully be postponed for at least 6 months...

Season 2015-16 should have been where Barkley really made his mark in the Premier League.  He played all but one of the games, scored and made more goals than ever before... but the increasingly dire management of him and the team by Roberto Martinez saw him lost in an increasingly uncertain role, seemingly told not to shoot quite so much or go on those wonderful mazy runs, but instead pass backward or sideways in tippy-tappy madness.

The squandering of his obvious talent was a huge frustration as Everton slid down the table after a promising start. Barkley's form slipped so badly that, by the time Martinez was sacked, his position in the England team for Euro2016 was in doubt. He would go to the Euros, but was not used by Roy Hodgson.

The new Everton manager, Ronald Koeman, gave Barkley a challenge under his new regime, and he showed a response inside 5 minutes of the new season beginning, scoring somewhat fortuitously from a free-kick that beat Lloris in the Spurs goal.

But the season would not develop well for Barkley, who found Everton's poor style and lack of movement ahead of him under Koeman frustrating, and that in turn led to him being benched with increasing frequency.

The England international came in for some cruel and direct criticism from Koeman as the manager sought ways to get the player performing better, prompting the 23-year-old to ask his manager why he was being singled out.

“I spoke about this with Ross,” Koeman said. “He mentioned that it is always about him. I said: ‘OK, start to be afraid when they don’t ask about you. Then you need to be afraid. And if the manager is still criticising you as a player then it means he still believes in your qualities. If I don’t talk about you any more than that is when you need to be afraid.’ I understand it is always difficult for him. There are always a lot of comments and questions about him. We had a conversation about this."

The tough love seemed to work as Barkley played an increasingly important role while Everton recovered from a dreadful pre-Christmas period to go on an extended unbeaten run that took them too the top of the six-game form table in early February.  But in part it may have been because Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman began to steal the limelight.

Meanwhile, off the field, the subject of a new contract, first mooted in the summer of 2016, then strangely shelved until "the New Year" eventually saw Barkley and his advisors shock all of Evertonia when he refused to sign what the club claimed was a very generous deal.

Koeman had made it clear he would be put up for sale if he did not sign by the end of the season, and though denying it was an ultimatum, the manager's annoyance suggested that things were far from happy between him and Barkley at Finch Farm.  

There were rumours that Spurs, then Arsenal, Man Utd... even Liverpool were interested but none would step up to meet the highly inflated wages Barkley (or his agent) was demanding. And it was not helped when Barkley sustained a grade three  hamstring injury that seemed to end any chance of a move away from his boyhood club.

As Spurs lost interest, however, Chelsea entered the fray, making a 25M bid that was rejected before they increased the fee to £35million, with Barkley reportedly accepting personal terms and heading to London for a medical. However, Transfer Deadline Day brought a massive surprise U-turn after the player pulled out of the move to Chelsea at the last minute, saying in a later Tweet:

“Contrary to a number of reports in the press, I did not undertake a medical with any club at any point.

“I simply decided that due to my injury, it would be best to make a decision on my future and assess all my options in January when fully fit.”



Everton Career
Season Squad
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
2 (4)
2 (1)
4 (5)
2 (5)
0 (2)
2 (7)
25 (9)
4 (0)
29 (9)
22 (7)
6 (1)
28 (8)
36 (2)
8 (2)
44 (4)
32 (4)
3 (0)
35 (4)
2017-18 8
32 (4) 5
3 (0) 1
35 (4) 6
119 (31) 21
23 (6) 6
142 (37) 27


Record Out on Loan
Season Club Appearances (sub) Goals
2012-13 Sheffield Wednesday  12 (1) & 0 (0) 4 & 0
2012-13 Leeds United 3 (1) & 0 (0) 0 & 0
Everton Academy Record
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2008-09 U-18s 13 (2) 0
2009-10 U-18s & Yth Cup 14 (1) & 3 (0) 1 & 1
2010-11 Reserves 3 (0) 1
2011-12 Reserves 14 (0) 3
2012-13 Reserves 11 (0) 3

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