Weekend review: Barkley, Ederson and a touch of Klaassen

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Ross Barkley PA PhotosRoss Barkley's star continues to rise.

The Scout's Notebook weekly review of the progress of young stars worldwide returns, with standout performers from both Europe and South America to the fore on this occasion.

Following the World Cup draw on Friday, attention is now beginning to turn towards the potential stars of the tournament next summer, with time for players to make a late claim for places in their country's 23-man squads. Indeed, many who do make late charges for inclusion will have been featured in this column over the past 12 months.

Two of those in our review this week will hope to make the plane to Brazil next June, but will they maintain their form over the coming months?

Barkley the heartbeat as Everton shine

Everton are without doubt one of the best teams in the Premier League at present and are fully deserving of their place in the upper echelons of the league table. At Arsenal on Sunday they were once more sensational for long periods. What's better, is there was youth at the heart of the display -- with James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and, later, Gerard Deulofeu all important to the balance and composition of the side.

It is not often that sides go to the Emirates and control the game, but that is exactly what Roberto Martinez's side achieved for the first half-hour of Sunday's game. At the heart of it all was young Englishman Barkley, playing at the point of a highly impressive midfield trio alongside McCarthy and Gareth Barry.

-Barkley 'a real English diamond'

Arsenal couldn't get to grips with the 20-year-old for extended periods of the first hour. The directness of Barkley and his ability to find space between the midfield and defensive lines troubled the Gunners, who lacked a natural defensive midfielder on the day. While there were mistakes, Barkley was generally excellent at keeping his head up, feeding off striker Lukaku and spreading play to those around him.

Whether, like Wayne Rooney before him, Barkley will lose the directness that so unsettles defenders as he develops remains to be seen. However, he should become an ever more imposing figure, which bodes well given his ability to impact at this early stage. A place in the England World Cup squad is a nigh-on certainty should he maintain his form and fitness. He is an entirely different player to the majority of midfielders at Roy Hodgson's disposal and could prove a useful wild card to have at his disposal in Brazil.

Ederson takes plaudits, but not headlines

Sadly for Atletico Paranaense, their performance in beating Vasco da Gama 5-1 on Sunday was somewhat overshadowed by the terrible events off the pitch and, it must be added, rightfully so. The Curitiba side, though, booked their place in the 2014 Copa Libertadores in their first season since returning to the top flight and demonstrated some of the tremendous quality at their disposal.

No player has impressed more so this season than 24-year-old forward Ederson, whose excellent hat trick in Cortiba saw him finish as the league's top scorer by some distance with 21 goals, as well as providing seven assists. In a forward line that has also included the pacey forward Marcelo and wily veteran Paulo Baier, Ederson has been the regular provider of the cutting edge needed to rise up the league.

The forward, brought in at the start of the campaign, has been linked with moves to the Far East, but it would now be no surprise to see possible European interest. He may lack outstanding individual attributes, but he is a rounded attacking player who combines pace, strength and technical ability to pose problems for defenders. He will never be a major star, but he could perform well at a higher level if given the opportunity.

His hat trick and performance on Sunday summed up what has made him such an important player this season. A headed finish from a free-kick, a superb assist and two well taken goals on the counterattack saw him finish the game as the undisputed best player on the pitch, rounding off a superb campaign in fitting style. Sadly for Atletico, he will unlikely remain at the club next season, but their presence in the 2014 Copa Libertadores will owe much to Ederson's significant contributions over the past six months.

Davy Klaassen hat-trick underlines potential

Ajax may not be at the summit of the Eredivisie for the time being, but a fourth consecutive win saw them maintain pressure on leaders Vitesse, with 20-year-old midfielder Klaassen the star.

Klaassen has been on the fringes of the Amsterdam side's first-team squad for a couple of seasons and, indeed, began the current campaign playing regularly for the Jong Ajax side now in the Dutch second tier. Of late, though, he has begun to see regular action in the club's first team, in the absence of Siem de Jong, and he is capitalising on the opportunity.

Two goals in his previous two league outings meant the youngster came into the tie brimming with confidence, but his impact against an unfortunate NAC Breda side would not have been expected.

Three surging runs from midfield brought the goals, with Klaassen finishing the first two emphatically off his right foot, before rounding the keeper and tucking home left-footed for his third. The purity of his volleyed strike from the right of the area for his second goal, in particular, will be long remembered among the club's support.

Ajax, of course, produce youth talent in great number and, for much of his early career, Klaassen has not been regarded as highly as many of their bigger-name youngsters. It may still be Viktor Fischer and Ricardo van Rhijn who lead the way for the club's youth, but Klaassen is doing his bit to ensure that he also generates his own headlines at present.

Competition is such that a place in the Netherlands' squad for the Brazil 2014 World Cup is unlikely. However, there are already calls for his introduction at international level and he will have the chance in the Champions League Wednesday against AC Milan to continue his fine form of recent weeks.

For further discussion on any of the players featured in The Scout’s Notebook, Christopher can be found on Twitter –@chris_elastico. More of his work profiling rising talents can also be found at TheElastico.com.


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