Graeme Souness insists Ross Barkley’s slow progress in fulfilling his potential would frustrate him as much as much as it has the Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
Barkley, the 23-year-old midfielder, has been one of the players at Goodison Park singled out for public criticism by Koeman throughout the season. On Saturday, following defeat in the Merseyside derby, he said Barkley needed to “show the type of player he is.”
Former Liverpool player and manager Souness shares Koeman’s infuriation and says he understands the Dutch manager’s public challenges of his player.
“He would frustrate you because, looking at someone like him, you’re thinking he could be a real player,” Souness told Newsweek.
“He’s 23 now and he’s not grasping it quick enough and I would be the exact same as Ronald Koeman.
“I think he’s a young man who has a certain type of ability: He’s got athleticism, a big powerful man. But I see his decision-making as very poor and that is something you can only get through training every day and wanting to learn from the better players. That’s how you improve your decision-making.”
Souness stresses that Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli is a “different type of player” but says he has a better understanding of the game and his team than Barkley.
“[Alli] will run forward as quick in the 90th minute without the ball as he would in the first or second minute,” Souness says.
“I like that in Dele Alli because it’s not all getting the ball to feet and doing a step over and a clever pass; he will make that selfless run into the box time and time again. He plays with a greater understanding.”
While Alli is in a title race with Premier League leader Chelsea, Barkley and Everton are looking to push for a place in the top-six. Everton is three points behind Manchester United, in sixth, but has played two games more.
On Sunday, Barkley will have his opportunity to prove himself to Koeman—and his critics—at the King Power Stadium, against Leicester City.
Sky Sports will show the biggest games in the Premier League run in including Chelsea v Manchester United and the North London and Manchester derbies.
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