By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Romelu Lukaku is as good as Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, according to Gareth Barry.
The Everton veteran believes that his team-mate is on a par with any of the strikers he has played with in his entire career.
Lukaku took his goal tally for the season to 11, including nine in the Premier League, with a double strike in Everton’s 4-0 mauling of Aston Villa on Saturday.
“In terms of Rom’s age, he is going to be right up there at the top of the strikers I’ve played with,” Barry told the Liverpool Echo.
The Everton captain, 34, has played with some of the outstanding Premier League strikers of the last decade, including Aguero, Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Edin Dzeko at Manchester City and Wayne Rooney with England.
Lukaku, who joined from Chelsea for £28million in the summer of 2014, is often linked with a mega-money move to a richer club but Barry is convinced that the Belgian will continue to flourish under the guidance of Roberto Martinez.
“Because of how long he’s been around and because of how big and strong he is, people forget his age,” observed Barry. “He is still learning and under the manager here, his standards and performances are going to keep going up.”
“Like any striker, it is all about confidence. He had a strong pre-season and hit the ground running.”
Everton moved up to seventh in the Premier League following the victory over Villa and Barry believes the club have benefitted from not being involved on Thursday nights in the Europa League.
“The rest in between games, without Europe, is going to help everyone and not just Rom,” explained the midfield veteran. “It wasn’t an excuse we liked to use last year but it is evident that it is going to help us and we’ll use that to our advantage and try and shoot up the league.”