Duncan Ferguson has urged Ross Barkley to stay a Blue for life.
The iconic former number nine wants Barkley to follow the example of Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman – who could make his 400th Blues appearance on Saturday– and remain at Goodison for his entire career.
Big Dunc, now a first team coach working under Roberto Martinez, insists the time when the Toffees were considered a selling club in some quarters is gone.
Barkley, 20, picked up his 10th England cap when he made a brief cameo for Roy Hodgson’s side in Glasgow on Tuesday, and continues to be linked with a move to Manchester City next summer.
But Ferguson said: “Hibbo and Ossie are both great examples for someone like Ross to look to.
“It would be great if Ross could spend his whole career at Everton like they have done.
“We want to keep our top players and there’s no reason why Ross can’t stay with us.
“He’s a Bluenose and hopefully he will spend his whole career here.”
Another former Blue made a strong impression against Ferguson’s native Scotland in the week, as his pal Wayne Rooney scored a brace to ensure bragging rights went South of the border.
And Ferguson is adamant Barkley need not follow the path of Rooney, who felt he had to leave Merseyside to fulfil his ambitions when he joined Manchester United in 2004.
England’s Ross Barkley during a training session at St. George’s Park. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
“I wanted Wayne to stay at Everton for his whole career too,” added the Blues coach.
“But things have changed.
“This isn’t a selling club so I want Ross here.”
Barkley was the subject of some heated instruction from the touchline on Tuesday, as Hodgson loudly remonstrated with the starlet.
But his Blues coach insists the Wavertree-born midfielder can deal with the criticism.
“If your manager has something to say then he has something to say,” said the 42-year-old. “You listen.
“I’m sure what Roy Hodgson was seeing he felt was relevant.
“The manager has to say what he feels is right.
“Ross is a good professional. He’ll take instructions well.
“He’s learning every day and developing at the same time. He will carry on doing that and get better and better too. I am excited to see that improvement come to fruition at Everton.”
Along with mentoring youngsters like Barkley, Ferguson also works daily with veterans like Hibbert and Osman in his role with the squad at Finch Farm.
And he reckons that Hibbert will shine if asked to deputise at left-back, in place of the injured Leighton Baines, when West Ham United come to the Old Lady this afternoon.
Ferguson led the line when Hibbert made his debut back in March 2001, in a 2-0 win over the Hammers.
Everton FC coach Duncan Ferguson on the pitch at Goodison Park before the game against Chelsea
And he has been a firm admirer of the resolute right-back ever since.
“He’s never let anyone down at the club from the moment he made his debut in that game as a young lad,” he said.
“He’s been a tremendous player and a great ambassador for the club.
“Hibbo is as tough as old boots. A Huyton lad who will give you 100% every time he pulls on a blue shirt and what’s most important too is that he loves Everton.
“He has that Scouse fighting spirit. It means something to him when he plays in front of the fans. He’s a great tackler and had plenty of energy.
“When you’ve played at the top level as long as he has as well you know the game. Tony is very savvy.
“He reads things and knows when to cover, when to defend. He does the job properly.
“I remember his debut. He got tripped up for a penalty but I don’t think he’s been in the box since!”
During his decade in the Premier League, Hibbert has dealt with some of the world’s best wingers, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Arjen Robben.
And Ferguson said he has rarely seen him overcome.
OSC Lille v Everton FC in the UEFA Europa League,at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy,Lille,France. Tony Hibbert applauds the fans at the final whistle.
“Any player who plays in the Premier League for that length of time is a top class player,” he said.
“At the end of the day, everyone wants to play in the Premier League and for a big club like Everton. It shows you how good he is that he’s done that.”
That sentiment extends to Osman, 33, who will be hoping to join the prestigious and select band of players to have made 400 appearances for the Toffees on Saturday.
“That’s a tremendous achievement,” said Ferguson.
“Him and Hibbo have been so fantastic but also under-rated. I rate them both very highly.
“I think they’ve been very important to what’s been built here and I think they both have more to offer as well. They’ve a few years left in them.
“The manager still fancies Ossie and you can see why. He knows he can still do a job for him.
“He’s called on him a lot and appreciates his quality.”
Quality is in abundance in the current Blues squad, with the addition of ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid striker Samuel Eto’o in the summer adding goals and a touch of class to Martinez’s forward ranks.
Ferguson does specific coaching sessions with Everton’s strikers, and believes the Cameroonian is helping younger men like Romelu Lukaku, 21, to learn as well.
He said: “He’s done well for us and been a good influence. Samuel is a top top player and can feed that into the lads because what he’s done in the game has been unbelievable. For the other strikers at the club they can watch him and take in a lot of information.
“I’m sure they do that and will absorb things.
“Sam has an opinion and will have his say and you’d be mad not to listen to someone who has achieved what he has in the game.
Look at his CV. He’s won almost everything. He has scored a tonne of goals. To have him at Everton is a tremendous boost.”
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