The Unconventional Journey of Ross Barkley: From Everton to Luton Town

So far, Ross Barkley’s career has been far from linear. As a child growing up on the banks of the Mersey, young Ross wore the jersey of Everton, his favorite club, from the age of 12. The Blue of the Toffees will never leave it again. Taking his first steps at Goodison Park in August 2011, the son of a Nigerian father and an English mother impressed. So much so that Tim Cahill, Everton spearhead at the time, had such glowing remarks about the man who was very quickly compared to Michael Ballack and Paul Gascoigne: “Ross Barkley at Everton is a special talent. He’s been unlucky this season with his injury, but he’s a huge player with a great attitude towards football. He is so mature for his age and I think he will be a great asset to Everton and the city of Liverpool in the years to come. I’ve been lucky enough to play with some great players during my career, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a talent like Ross.»

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After a few loans from the young Liverpool player, the Australian striker’s prophecy came true. Under the colors of Everton in 2018, Barkley reached the heights and established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Performances that catch the eye of big names across the Channel. Close to signing him the previous summer, Chelsea finally offered the England international (33 caps, 6 goals) the following winter. A prestigious arrival which ultimately marks one of the first stops in Barkley’s career. Quite used and rather interesting during his first year under the leadership of Maurizio Sarri, the right-hander no longer played too much with Frank Lampard before being completely ousted under Thomas Tuchel. Author of an interesting season with Aston Villa in 2020-2021, Barkley joins OGC Nice in 2022 to give a second wind to his career.

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Starting from lower to go even higher

Recruited for free by the Aiglons, this was a good deal for the Azuréens. However, at the end of a tasteless season punctuated by 4 goals and 2 assists in 28 appearances, OGC Nice announced the termination of the versatile midfielder’s contract. The latter, then feeling the need to come home and really have importance in a sporting project. The Liverpool native then took a bold gamble: joining promoted Luton Town in the Premier League. Perceived as Little Thumb at the start of the season, the club based in Bedfordshire nevertheless defies the predictions in this 2023-2024 vintage. For their first season in the big leagues, Rob Edwards’ flock are far from ridiculous and will fight to stay in the elite.

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In the middle of this interesting season, Barkley is like a fish to water and will be one of the lethal weapons of the Kenilworth Road residents. Holder 21 times in 24 appearances, the Everton defector shines and culminates in 3 goals and 3 assists. Spared by physical problems, Barkley continues and (re)gets everyone to agree. While some even imagine him winning the title of best player in England (see above), Cesc Fabregas, who knew him at Chelsea, said he was happy to see his former teammate at such a level again: “he is playing at a fantastic level. I’m very happy for him because he got a little lost. He lost his confidence and now he’s back. He may have taken two steps back to be able to play again at the level he knows he can reach. We always need a player like him. When he touches the ball, something happens at Luton. But they always saw Ross as a number eight, more box-to-box. It’s true that now, as number six, he’s a physical machine. I think physically he’s one of the best players, but the personality he plays with is, I think, the strong point of this Luton team. Playing with players of that personality gives them an extra second or two of possession, which makes things happen, which makes the team tick.» Also a fan of the player after his generally disappointing spell on the Côte d’Azur, Jim Ratcliffe, new boss of Manchester United, would like to bring the English midfielder back to Old Trafford according to several English sources. In great shape, Ross Barkley can also start dreaming of a return to the Three Lions. We know that Gareth Southgate is a fan of players who perform in the Premier League and places remain to be found in the British midfield to travel to Germany this summer. Even at 30, Luton Town’s X-factor can still dream.

Pub. on 27/02/2024 19:00

2024-02-27 18:00:00
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