This season’s summer transfer deadline day was seen as disappointing by the majority of Evertonians. Despite the arrival of Ramiro Funes Mori and the return of Aaron Lennon the creative playmaker Martinez vowed to sign never materialised.
With less than a month the January transfer window opens but now the many Evertonians who were deflated in the summer may rejoice in the knowledge Martinez no longer requires an elusive playmaker. This season the Spaniard’s players have stepped up to fill that creative void, namely Ross Barkley.
The Wavertree-born midfielder has come into his own this season, showing all the talent he boasted in Martinez’s debut season, and more. Barkley, from the number ten position has already bagged seven goals this campaign, more than any other season in a royal blue jersey. Not only has his eye for goal improved but also and more crucially his decision making and matureness, which many criticised his lack of last term. Everton’s diamond has shown a level of consistency that he and Everton lacked last season and has caught the eye with a number of outstanding performances.
Barkley was sensational against Southampton and Aston Villa proving almost unplayable on the day. His recent performance against Crystal Palace may have been less explosive but was showed his increasing maturity as he kept the ball expertly and marshalled a deeper midfield role.
In a difficult and underwhelming last season for the Blues fans were frustrated week after week of seeing Barkley’s talents wasted as he was shifted out to left midfield. As Martinez tried to juggle him and Steven Naismith into the same side. However, after failing to capture a creative midfielder, Barkley has been trusted with the role and he has only impressed, perhaps convincing his manager to call of the search for a number ten.
Another one of Everton’s “Fab Four” who could take up the role of creative midfielder is Gerard Deulofeu. A winger by name and by nature so far in an Everton shirt. However, the Spanish magician is not short of creative spark and has conjured up seven Premier League assists so far this season, Geri often takes up a central position to receive the ball and demonstrated his ability to lay there in the build up to Everton’s fourth goal against Aston Villa. Deulofeu is in the mould of players Martinez attempted to acquire in the summer, pacey, creative and continental.
Moving him from the right wing could prove a masterstroke from Martinez. Where as Deulofeu’s assists have largely come from wide positons Everton have a player more than capable of replicating them on the bench, Aaron Lennon.
When looking at players within the club who can operate Everton’s creative playmaker, Steven Naismith has to be mentioned.Outcast by most Toffees after arriving from Rangers the Scot has won fans around under Martinez after being moved into a central positon. Naismith excelled in a central role earning the title of “Scottish Messi”. Everton could well see a rise in his form if given the oppurtnity and freedom to operate centrally.
Such a switch would come at a price. Naismith’s eye-catching performances in the past have come at the expense of Barkley. The Scot’s World class showings at Arsenal, two seasons ago. and Chelsea this season both saw Barkley moved to a deeper and less effective role in the team. However the tactical switch brings the most from Naismith.
With the transfer window fast approaching the long-awaited arrival of a continental playmaker may never occur. Instead Martinez will continue to put his faith in Ross Barkley and will be happy in the knowledge he has creative players, who can perform in a central role, already at the club.