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Is playing Ross Barkley at striker a good idea?

It’s been suggested...

Everton v Watford - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In the Everton world today I’ve seen it suggested that Ross Barkley might actually be a short term solution to the Blues’ striker issues once he is fit again. I personally think that with Sandro as an option our striker plight isn’t as bad as many assume but I do want to address this idea about Ross. (To join this discussion on our Facebook page, click here.)

Last season, about half of Barkley’s shots were outside the box. We can assume that this would change some if he was a striker, and more shots in the box should increase his currently sub .500 accuracy from shooting. However, it’s unlikely that his shot accuracy would approach anything close to “clinical”.

As far as being a ‘target man’ is concerned, the most attempted headed shots in a season for Ross is 8, which is not really an inspiring number. It would be easy to chalk this up to the position he plays, but Michael Keane is a central defender, and has had 40 headed shots in the last two seasons to Ross’ 11. This just isn’t a strong suit for Barkley, and a 6’2” striker who can’t head the ball is a confusing concept.

In terms of being able to receive the ball and go past people, Ross might be able to have some success. He completed 63% of his dribbles last season (for context, Lukaku completed 66%) but I am worried that having to dribble in more dangerous and clogged zones near the goal more often is going to make Ross’ dribbling percentage drop to an undesirable level.

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Ross Barkley just isn’t a striker. This isn’t a groundbreaking statement, I know, and I appreciate the out of the box thinking that some Everton fans have put into this concept, but I just don’t see it happening in a successful way.

Either Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Sandro Ramirez (especially Sandro), guys who do this pretty exclusively for their living are better options, and putting Ross up top is a square peg in a round hole.

If Everton was set up with more traditional goalscoring wingers (and actually Sandro could fill this role), then perhaps it might be interesting to see Ronald Koeman take a page out of his mentor Johann Cruyff’s book and play Barkley as a false 9.

That position could double as the top of a midfield diamond, so that Barkley could distribute to crashing wingers. However, I really don’t think we have the pace out wide to fill both those other forward spots in the way that Koeman would need to, and frankly I question Ross’ ability to process the game in a complex enough way to make that work.

He’d probably just start runs and change his mind in the middle of them and run back at the last minute.

Ross at striker? It’s a no from me.