Boyhood blue Barkley savours reward
Midfielder Ross Barkley believes his new four-year contract proves performances on the pitch bring their own rewards.
The 20-year-old has signed a new deal which according to manager Roberto Martinez reflects his new role within the team.
Despite Barkley's successful breakthrough campaign in terms of being a key first-team player, which also led to him being selected for the World Cup, the boyhood Everton fan said he had not been pushing for improved terms.
"I don't go looking for new contracts, I go on the pitch hoping to play well and earn that contract and I seem to have done that throughout last season," he said.
"The better you play it just comes to you, you don't have to go looking for one.
"I just want to focus on doing everything right on the pitch and that will lead to bigger and better things."
Barkley is a grounded individual and knows he has to kick on from last season and maintain his progress.
He will do well to heed the experience of the last highly-rated young talent to earn a big contract at Everton.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell was also an academy graduate with great potential but after signing a bumper five-year deal in 2010 his performances dropped off and, although he got a big-money move to Manchester City, that has not worked out for him.
"I am thinking about developing my game and hopefully playing a few games in central midfield and developing my all-round game and being a leader on the pitch," Barkley added.
"I am a young lad at the early stages of my career and I am confident in my own ability but I know there are a lot of things to improve on.
"The gaffer is helping me out with that and hopefully this season I can push on from what I did last season."
Barkley and his manager both hailed the significance of securing one of England's brightest prospects for the long term.
"It means everything to me," said the midfielder.
"It's a dream playing for Everton. As soon as I got told about it I wanted to sign.
"I've played for Everton most of my life. This is a big thing for me.
"I am settled at Everton. I see it as my home. This is the club that I love and we have to push on and do well from here.
"It was a great season last season and we did well and got into Europe, which was our ambition.
"We now want to push on and get into the Champions League."
Despite his young age Martinez hopes Barkley can now become a role model for the club's other aspiring youngsters hoping for a first-team break.
"Ross has been phenomenal in that respect. Sometimes you don't realise what a big model he is for the youngsters that we have at the club," said the Toffees boss.
"For the future I want Ross to be a big example on and off the pitch and the way the new deal has come along is a true reflection of things to come in the future.
"The youngsters at Finch Farm can understand they can be the new Ross Barkley and I hope to be able to deal with players in the future with the same communication."
On the significance of the contract, Martinez added: "When you talk about assembling squads and getting ready for the new season, for us, it is as big news as you can get.
"Ross is still a young man and there is a long way to go in his development but as it stands he is a massive part of our squad.
"It is a big moment as every Evertonian will tell you. Ross Barkley is the sort of player everyone would love to pay to watch him play.
"He brings back memories of the big legends we've had at the club. But saying that he is a young man and his best years are yet to come."