Pirlo: England youngster made a big impression on me

Andrea Pirlo has made no secret of his admiration for England's rising star Ross Barkley by praising him in a recent interview.

Speaking to the BBC the Juventus legend said: “I saw Ross Barkley play in the summer when we played Everton during a friendly in America. He made a big impression.”

Pirlo is just another in a long line of admirers of the young Everton midfielder, with both Manchester United and Chelsea rumoured to be interested in signing him in mega money deals.

Pirlo also said he expects something different from England when the two sides meet on June 14th in Manaus.

“I think so because new players have come in over the past two years. I don't know too much about Adam Lallana, but people have told me good things about him.”

The last time they met in a major tournament was at Euro 2012, when England were given a lesson in the value of possession by Pirlo as Italy beat England on penalties in the quarter-finals.

That something 'different' Pirlo mentions could be Barkley, and with more and more calling for him to be given a chance, England manager Roy Hodgson must be tempted to unleash the young attacker this summer.

With two more friendlies to play against Ecuador and Honduras before they face Pirlo and his fellow Italians, Barkley has the perfect opportunity to impress in those games before the group stages. He could be used out wide or in his more favoured central position behind the striker.

Many feel he has the potential to have the same effect as Wayne Rooney did in Euro 2004, or Paul Gascoigne in the 1990 World Cup. He's young, fearless but above all supremely gifted and an unknown to many sides, which could be crucial in Brazil.

QPR star Joey Barton this week told the Daily Express he sees Barkley as "the most exciting young player in England” and feels that “he could pull something out of the bag for us in the kind of tight game we're probably going to have against Italy.”

He added: "He has the talent and the self-confidence to be a game changer for us."

Fitting him into the side may be difficult, especially as he likes to play in a similar position to that of Wayne Rooney. But, If Pirlo, a World Cup and two time Champions League winner is impressed, maybe Hodgson should take note and make room for the young starlet in his starting XI.

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