By Alex Stevens

Romelu Lukaku has said midfielder Ross Barkley can become the “best player in English football” if he adds more goals and assists to his games.

Despite scoring against West Ham on Sunday and coming away with the man of the match award, Barkley came under more criticism from TV pundits on Match of the Day who questioned his development and said that he needs to grow up on the pitch.

Barkley lost his place in the England squad over the summer and was also dropped by current club manager Ronald Koeman for the game against Manchester City.

However, talking in The Telegraph, Everton striker Lukaku has come to the 22-year-old’s defence saying, “I think the manager has been hard on him because he knows that Ross has the quality, he just needs to be more productive.

“He has got loads of qualities, especially in the number 10 positions. You expect goals and assists from them. When you see the firepower we have up front, we need more from Ross.

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“At the minute, the players who play in his position – like Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney – they have got goals in them. I think Ross has to get more goals and more assists than he has been doing.

“Ross, to me, if he fulfils his potential, you are talking about the best player in English football. He has got everything. He has got power, he has got technique, he can shoot with both feet. He is fast, he can pick a pass… Who is going to stop him?”

Barkley currently has two goals and just one assist across nine Premier League games for Everton this season, which is a poor return for a player of his calibre.

He’ll be hoping to add to that when Everton travel for a tough game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Three points from the game would take the Merseyside club to within one point of fourth-placed Chelsea.

In other Everton news, this former defender has said Rooney could become Barkley’s mentor if he makes a sensational return to the club.