Gareth Barry: Ross Barkley can be as good as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard
Gareth Barry believes that Ross Barkley is capable of reaching the same level as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Barkley on Tuesday scored his third goal of an impressive start to the season when he equalised to inspire Everton to defeat hosts Reading 2-1 in the third round of the Capital One Cup. After disappointing last season, the midfielder is again on course to fulfil his exceptional potential.
Barry, alongside James McCarthy, frequently partners Barkley in Everton's midfield and, having occupied the same position for England when both Gerrard and Lampard were near their peak, he believes his Toffees team-mate is similarly gifted.
"Ross has got all the potential to become as good as them," Barry said. "He's got everything that they had, to match their ability, but the one thing he's gonna need is consistency: performing, scoring goals, assisting on a regular basis.
"Them two players you mentioned done that for 10, 12 years in the Premier League, so that's the target.
"Ross has got all the ability to go on and be a really top player. He's obviously still young so he's still learning certain parts of the game. He's got the manager here that's really trying to find the right position for him to flourish. He showed in his first season how good he is, and how consistent he can be; last season was a bit up and down, a massive learning curve for him, so I'm not surprised this year he's really kicked on again."
Potential explanations for Barkley's disappointing 2014-15 season included fatigue following selection for the 2014 World Cup, Everton's largely underwhelming form and the fact that manager Roberto Martinez played him in a variety of positions.
Barry similarly played in several positions while in his youth before eventually settling in central midfield and he believes that Barkley's recent development owes much to him again having a consistent role.
"I think he's a lot better coming from deeper, Ross," he said. "Probably not in 'the hole' at the moment, it's a tough position and he's probably still young to be going in there, so the role he's playing at the moment with James (McCarthy) and myself has certainly been suiting him this season.
"It'd have been a learning curve not just for Ross but the manager using him last season, he was stuck out wide sometimes, played in the hole, played deeper, so it's tough for a young player to settle down and play to your strengths when you're not getting a run in one position. For Ross mainly, last year was a big learning curve, and I think we're reaping the rewards now."