Barkley can be England's 'diamond', says Martinez

Everton manager Roberto Martinez says young midfielder Ross Barkley can be the "diamond" of English football.

Barkley, who turned 20 on Thursday, played a starring role in Everton's 1-1 Premier League draw at Arsenal on Sunday.

A delighted Martinez has now compared his player to the likes of Michael Ballack and Paul Gascoigne.

"When I see Barkley, I see bits of Ballack and bits of 'Gazza' (Gascoigne), (although) I can guarantee you that he is quite unique," said Martinez after the Arsenal draw.

"He has incredible balance with both feet; he is really strong and really powerful. He is developing an incredible awareness.

"He is someone that you can compare to any other nation … I mean the young Brazilians, Dutch and Spanish players. He has a gift and that talent.

"Ross is an incredible person, so mature and he has a real love for the game. I've never seen an English player with that sort of mentality and I have had the privilege to work with many youngsters who have been successful.

"We needed to find a role for him, specifically off the ball and then he needs to be able to express himself. We need to give him time.

"We have to recognise a real English diamond. He isn't ready yet but he has everything to mark a real era in our football."

Barkley has made 12 Premier League starts this season, and his efforts have helped Everton to fifth in the table.

He has also been touted for a place in England's World Cup squad, yet Martinez has warned against expecting too much from his player.

"The England manager (Roy Hodgson) has to decide what role, if any, he wants for Ross (at the World Cup)," said Martinez.

"What we need to do is make sure we give Ross another 50 starts to see his evolution. Any player needs to develop an understanding.

"In this country, we need to be more protective over our youngsters because, in Ross, we have someone who, if we look after him properly, can give us something unique."