Previously stifled under former Everton manager David Moyes, who wasn’t as willing as current boss Roberto Martinez to take the risks associated with a young player in the Premier League, Barkley flourished under the Spaniard's attractive style of football.
As his 21st birthday rolls around, Barkley already finds himself a key member of Everton’s first team. Wonderful goals in the games with Norwich City, Swansea City, Newcastle United and Manchester City last season have put him firmly in the media spotlight. For Evertonians, however, this is not a surprise - but more a case of 'about time'. There had been whisperings about a special talent in the Everton youth ranks for quite a while, and finally the Goodison Park faithful are getting to see it on a regular basis.
Those mouth-watering goals and exciting performances have already put a huge weight of expectation on the young midfielder’s shoulders. Now a regular member of the England squad too, Barkley featured in the 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil, and the recent friendly against Scotland. Comparisons to Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney have already been made, with pundits like Phil Thompson and Gary Lineker likening Barkley to the Geordie on several occasions.
It hasn't all been positive for Barkley, though. His injury at the beginning of the season was a big blow to both the player and Everton, and Barkley will now spend time finding his way back to form. And Everton, of course, badly need his talents as soon as possible.
But Everton fans need to temper their expectations as Barkley finds his way back to top form. When he needlessly gave the ball away at the end of the recent home game against Hull City, loud groans and protestations could be heard from the supporters.
Martinez, however, takes a different view. He has said in recent interviews that he wants the midfielder to take risks, and is not concerned by Barkley losing possession. As far as the Spaniard is concerned, it is more of an issue if Barkely doesn’t get on the ball. And that's a stance that the fan base must take as well. Similarly, they need to understand that Barkley will require time to allow him to grow and develop into the player everyone wants him to become.