The Premier League legend thinks the 'old' Barkley who 'looked so good' at Goodison Park would have been more audacious on the pitch.
Sky Sports pundit and ex-footballer Paul Merson has bemoaned Ross Barkley's current form and compared "the one who looked so good at Everton" to the "scared" one currently turning out for Chelsea, as per his column in the Daily Star.
The 25-year-old, who came through the ranks at Goodison Park as a youngster, moved to Stamford Bridge during the 2018 January transfer window for a reported £15million (BBC Sport) in a move that did not go down well with sections of the Everton fanbase.
Having almost made the move to Chelsea in the summer of 2017 before changing his mind before going through with the £30million deal, Barkley failed to make another appearance for the Toffees that season due to injury, then moved in January for half the price (BBC Sport).
Barkley's time at Chelsea has been mixed so far, failing to establish a firm starting spot in the team - he started just 13 Premier League games last term (Transfermarkt) - and, according to Merson, the talented midfielder needs to "stop playing it safe" and suggested that he's currently playing as if "on a tight leash".
"Ross Barkley needs to stop playing it safe and get back to doing what he does best because right now he looks scared," Merson wrote in the Daily Star of the £100,000-per-week man (Spotrac). "Scared to try things, scared to make a mistake. But that’s how you end up making them!
"He got slaughtered for one of the England goals for playing a backpass to his defender. The ball he played was safe and the centre half should have dealt with it. But the old Barkley, the one who looked so good at Everton, would have turned on that and hit a 40-yard ball. It might not have worked, but he’d have tried it."
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