Assuming he doesn’t follow David Moyes to Manchester United, Ross Barkley has to be the player to keep an eye on at Everton.
The 19-year-old has been heavily linked with the Old Trafford club since his former manager was appointed Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, but should he remain on Merseyside, he could enjoy a productive season with the Toffees.
Since making his debut for Everton last term, Barkley has gone on to feature in 13 Premier League games, showing his undeniable quality in his side’s recent tussle with Arsenal, drawing gasps from the spectators with a neat turn and shot from the edge of the area that flashed just past the Gunners’ goal.
Those who witnessed him in action for either of Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday or Leeds when on loan last term, however, will have an even greater understanding of what a talent he is. He bagged four goals in 13 appearances for the Owls, playing a key part in their second half of the season revival.
He was only allowed four games during his Elland Road stint, but popped up to assist Ross McCormack’s winner in Leeds’ 1-0 win over Barnsley.
Physically, Barkley is of a stature beyond his years, while his calm head, ability to pick a pass and all round maturity are just a handful of the attributes that have prompted several to dub him an England star of the future.
Assuming he chooses to stay with the club he signed for as an 11-year-old, he’ll surely be granted more access to the first team than he would with the champions, while with Marouane Fellaini expected to depart the club he’s likely to find opportunities easier to come by next term.
Whether the incoming manager supervises Barkley’s development as well as Moyes did is likely to have a major impact on the nation’s footballing future, let alone Everton’s and over-exposing him is probably going to hinder progress.
Introducing him slowly, as Arsene Wenger did with Jack Wilshere at Arsenal, is likely to be the key, but expect him to play a bigger part with the Goodison Park outfit than he did in 2012/13.
His current club are priced up at 20/1 to hoist a first trophy since 1995 by winning next season’s FA Cup.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date