Wenger: Barkley one of the best I have ever seen

The Gunners boss says the Toffees ace has made a big step forward this season but has warned Roy Hodgson he cannot afford to take too many inexperienced players to the World Cup

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says Ross Barkley is one of the best young players he has ever seen, as he prepares to take on Everton at Goodison Park.

The 20-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a superb season for the Toffees, making 31 appearances in all competitions and scoring six goals.

Everton welcome Arsenal on Sunday, still in the hunt for a top-four spot and go into the game just four points behind the Gunners, but having played a game fewer.

Speaking ahead of the match, Wenger praised the young Englishman, who he feels has improved dramatically this season.

“He’s made a big step forward – from a young hope he has suddenly convinced everybody he has huge potential and talent,” the Frenchman told reporters.

“He can have a huge impact in big games, with a combination of technical qualities and power, which are very difficult to combine in midfield and what is demanded from a modern midfielder.

“For me, he has had a big impact this season. He’s one of the best I have seen.”

Despite his impressive season, Barkley is not guaranteed a spot in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad and Wenger feels his inexperience may count against him.

“It’s good that he’s not guaranteed a World Cup place, because at the World Cup experience of big games is important in terms of the number of games you have behind you,” the Gunners boss added.

“You can’t travel to a World Cup with too many players of that [level of inexperience]. When you go into a game you need to know that you get at least a certain quality, and a certain quality is guaranteed by the experience of the player of big games.

“You can take one or two and take a gamble. You cannot take five or six like that.”

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