Everton manager aiming for Champions League with Ross Barkley

The Toffees have demonstrated in the past couple of games that they are capable of a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

Everton manager aiming for Champions League with Ross Barkley

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December 9th, 2013

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Taking four points from matches at Old Trafford and the Emirates is no mean feat, with Everton sitting fifth in the table and that 3-1 defeat at the Etihad earlier this season remains the only occasion on which Roberto Martinez’s side have lost in the Premier League.

Indeed, it’s worth noting that Everton drew their opening three matches but sit just a point behind Manchester City after fifteen games played, with Martinez admitting that the team’s ultimate aim this season is to land a place in the top four.

“I always said to talk about league games in December is foolish,” Martínez said. “We look at the final third of the season and see where we can go. With the history and tradition of the club, with nine titles, we should be looking to get into the Champions League. It has to be an ultimate aim.”

Part of the reason why Everton could challenge at the top of the table is the emergence of Ross Barkley, with the 20-year-old having produced a Man of the Match performance on Sunday afternoon against Arsenal.

The England midfielder was encouraged to play between the Gunners defence and midfield, with Barkley drawing comparisons with Paul Gascoigne thanks to his ability to dribble with the ball and make things happen.

“When I see Barkley, I see bits of [Michael] Ballack and bits of Gazza, [although] I can guarantee you that he is quite unique,” Martínez said. “He has incredible balance with both feet, he is really strong and really powerful. He is developing an incredible awareness. He is someone that you can compare to any other nation … I mean the young Brazilians, Dutch and Spanish players. He has a gift and that talent.

“Ross is an incredible person, so mature and he has a real love for the game. I’ve never seen an English player with that sort of mentality and I have had the privilege to work with many youngsters who have been successful. We needed to find a role for him, specifically off the ball and then he needs to be able to express himself. We need to give him time. We have to recognise a real English diamond. He isn’t ready yet but he has everything to mark a real era in our football.”

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