The creative mid-fielder suffered a horrific injury when he was 17 and putting that behind him seems to have made him mature beyond his years. Barkley has been around for a while at Everton but he has flowered into a potential-superstar under Roberto Martinez who has not shied away from handing the youngster the huge responsibility of playing the creator for his free-flowing side.
Barkley sparkled at the Goodison Park Merseyside derby which eventually ended at 3-3. His ability goes beyond picking a pass as he can run past defenders with considerable pace and snatch a shot. He showed his set-piece prowess against Swansea scoring a blinder late in the game which proved to be the difference between the sides.
Barkley is another one of the English youngsters who has caught the eye of Roy Hodgson and has an outside chance of booking an early ticket to Brazil. However, realistically his moment under the sun will come later. Martinez is a manager who wants to empower his players at Everton and it is good to see that they are finally beginning to transcend the shackles that they had imposed on themselves under David Moyes.
The club looks more ambitious and there is a sense of optimism that was rarely felt during the last decade even though they were consistently a ‘decent’ side. That approach means that players such as Ross Barkley are being shielded from the interest of big-money clubs. Martinez seems like the right man to ensure that this success story has some longevity to it.
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
The left-back is one of the most prized assets in the Premier league currently. The modern game has cut an enormous space for creative, competent full backs who provide so much to the team. Shaw is trying his best to fit the bill by striking the right-balance between his attacking instincts and his defensive duties. He is all too keen to join in when the team surges forward providing extra width, creativity and has the teeth to take a shot. He needs to shore up his defensive game a little more but positional awareness and tactical nous rarely desert him.
Once he adds composure and earns the experience of playing against top class attackers, he will be well on his way to a stardom. He isn’t a discovery of this season in the sense that he was a regular performer for the Saints last season as well but the team’s overall burst this season has highlighted his role more prominently.
At age 18, he is nearing 50 appearances for his club already and the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly targeting him. The likes of Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines remain prime contenders for the flight to Brazil as expected but Shaw has highlighted himself with his consistency this season.
Manchester United have had little to cheer about this season and it seems like ‘the Chosen One’ just can’t catch a break right now. Consistent scrutiny and pressure is a part of the job at Manchester United but credit must be given where credit is due. One thing that Moyes has managed to do is to bring to light an accomplished performer.
Another product of the Belgian factory, the youngster joined Manchester United from Anderlecht in 2011 and rewarded his manager for his invested trust immediately. He started his first match for United against Sunderland earlier this season when the Red Devils were facing the prospect of conceding three consecutive defeats and came up with two goals to inspire a fightback.
In the larger context of this season for United, Januzaj has been adding some much needed creativity to a side that suffers miserably on that count in the absence of Wayne Rooney. He is an elegant player who knows how to create a goal-scoring opportunity, and produce individual brilliance when pushed to the wall. United were swift to settle his long-term future and offered him 5-year-deal soon after the Sunderland performance.
The 19-year-old will benefit from the presence of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata in the squad even though that might mean that he plays out of his most favored position. The 19-year old will surely attain greater heights at Old Trafford and he will be hoping that he finds greater suppport from his team-mates as the season goes on.