England manager Roy Hodgson believes Ross Barkley should model his game on Italian icons Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti as the Everton midfielder looks to add more goals to his game.
Barkley struggled for form and consistency in 2014-15 but the talented midfielder has impressed in a resurgent Everton side this season.
The 21-year-old has scored three goals in all competitions, already surpassing his entire tally from last term.
However, international manager Hodgson has challenged the Everton star to become a goalscoring attacking midfielder, pointing to Baggio and Totti as inspiration.
“If you want to be that midfielder, who is really a forward and who plays behind the centre forward, then you have to score goals,” Hodgson said.
“If I was a player in that position, I would be looking at the real classic players in that position from the past. I would be looking at Roberto Baggio in particular, who I had the pleasure of working with very briefly [at Inter], and Francesco Totti.
“I’d be looking at them and thinking about the fact that in their careers … they scored an awful lot of goals. The way things are going – the importance of scoring goals and how few there are – you can’t have the luxury of someone who can play in there unless he’s going to be chipping in with a few goals.
“We’ve talked to Ross about that, he’s more than aware of it. I’m sure [Everton manager] Roberto Martinez does too. And I think he’s going to score goals.
“I don’t know how many goals Baggio was scoring at the age of 19, 20 and I don’t know how many Francesco Totti was, but for me that would be my template: ‘Right this is the position I want; this is the position I’m good at; I’m going to provide some goals but I’m also going to score a few.'”
Barkley’s first opportunity to meet Hodgson’s expectations in an England shirt could come in the Euro 2016 qualifiers at home to Estonia on Friday and away to Lithuania three days later.
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