Everton midfielder Ross Barkley is suffering because of comparisons to Tottenham’s free-scoring Dele Alli, according to team-mate Yannick Bolasie.
Winger Bolasie has advised Barkley to dispense with some of the trickery in his game to achieve his full potential.
The England man has been in and out of Everton’s first team this season, with manager Ronald Koeman last month saying he needed to see improvement from the 23-year-old playmaker.
Suggestions of inconsistency and tactical deficiencies have dogged Barkley, but Bolasie is convinced he can develop into a top player.
“The sky is the limit for Ross,” Bolasie said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “The only thing I’d say to Ross is to simplify his game a little bit more.
“I’ve been told to simplify it and when I’ve simplified it I’ve got better results.
“He can score as well but where he is at the moment everyone is comparing him to Dele Alli which takes a toll as well because at the moment Dele’s flying, he’s scoring goals after goals after goals.
“Then you go turn around and look at Ross. They almost play in the same position. I think that puts a little bit more pressure on, but ability-wise he could play for any team in the league.”
Alli has scored seven goals in his last five Tottenham appearances and the 20-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid on the back of such performances.
Contrastingly, Barkley has scored three times in the Premier League all season.
However Bolasie insists his Everton colleague is focusing on honing his game, and will show that critics have misjudged him.
“He’s stronger than what everyone thinks mentally, and he wants to prove people wrong,” Bolasie said. “That’s one of the things I really like about Ross and I think he’ll end up doing that, that’s for sure.”