By Amir Mir
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has urged midfielder Ross Barkley to show more responsibility in his performances as he enters a critical stage in his career.
The England international is starting his sixth senior season as an Everton professional, after making his debut in the 2010-11 season as a 17-year-old.
The former Leeds loanee impressed for the first half of the 2015-16 season and, despite tailing off in the second half of the campaign, scored an impressive 12 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions.
His new manager Ronald Koeman has now urged Barkley, 22 to show more responsibility ahead of an important campaign for the 22-cap England youngster.
“He is one of the key players,” said Koeman as quoted by the Mirror. “He is performing in an important position for the team – creating chances, scoring goals.
“But he also needs to show more responsibility in terms of defending. That is one of the aspects in football where he can improve.”
Barkley may be young in age, but the Everton academy product has vast experience as a footballer with 114 Premier League appearances.
The versatile midfielder did not feature for his home country at Euro 2016, as the youngster endured a difficult start to the year.
At the back-end of last season Roberto Martinez was sacked, followed by the disappointment of Euro 2016.
But his new manager has given him a motivational pep talk ahead of their fixture against Tottenham this afternoon.
“I have spoken to everyone in pre-season about football, about their position in the team and how we train,” said Koeman. “I have contact with everyone and I have spoken with him.
“I have told him how I see Ross Barkley and where he needs to improve. He has been playing three, four seasons in the Premier League now? Now show your quality. Not once every two months, but every weekend.
“The responsibility is important for him to take. He must put it on his shoulders because he is a very, very good player.”
The Toffees finished a disappointing 11th last season, as they conceded 59 goals in yet another campaign outside of Europe.
This led to the departure of England defender John Stones to Manchester City for £47.5 million, with the likes of Maarten Stekelenburg, Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Williams all heading towards Merseyside.
Koeman finished in the top eight in two successive seasons with Southampton, as he now bids to find European football with the blue half of Merseyside.
In other Everton team news, Premier League rivals Manchester United have stepped up their asking price for their playmaker.