Daily Star

Moura’s concern



JOE COLE says maverick midfielder Ross Barkley can drive Chelsea’s push for silverware – just like Frank Lampard once did.

Once touted as England’s ‘next big thing,’ Barkley has been overshadow­ed this season by the emergence of a galaxy of younger stars at Stamford Bridge and beyond.

But former West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool star Cole reckons Everton prodigy Barkley hit top gear just before the coronaviru­s shutdown and is ready to finally go on and fulfil his huge potential.

Cole, who has taken up a coaching role with Chelsea’s academy, said: “Ross has improved. He is a top player. I’m a big fan of Ross Barkley. Always have been.

“He’s been a bit less spoken about because of Jack Grealish and James Maddison and Mason Mount. But he’s done a terrific job at Chelsea.

“The last two games, against Liverpool and Everton, he was brilliant. Absolutely fantastic. “I’ve always thought he was a top player and I think he’ll be at Chelsea for many, many years.

“Now the challenge for Ross is, can he keep doing that, can he be that player who drives Chelsea on to win trophies, like his manager was? I think he can.”

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Barkley at Chelsea this season. He came off the bench to demand – and miss – a late penalty in a Champions League defeat to Valencia.

And he was accused of being unprofessi­onal by Lampard after being pictured on nights out in Liverpool and Dubai before Christmas.

But Barkley scored a belter in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Liverpool earlier this month. He then had two assists in their 4-0

■ thrashing of Everton, showing the form that convinced the Blues to pay his old club £15m.

Barkley, 26, is often criticised for his decision-making, speed of thought and tendency to over-elaborate, much as Cole was when he quit West Ham for Chelsea in 2003.

But Jose Mourinho, then boss, applied some polish to his rough diamond and Cole reckons Barkley will follow in his footsteps and become a more complete player under Lampard.

He said: “I’m pleased if people can see similariti­es between him and me because I’m a big fan. I think I just developed at Chelsea.

“It wasn’t just Jose. He’s a fantastic manager. But I was playing with better players. More expectatio­n.

“I grew into my body a bit. And winning trophies breeds confidence.

“I like everything about Ross. Technicall­y, he’s spot on. The mental aspect of the game, he’s getting better and better. Tactically, he is improving all the time.

“I just think he’s a top, top player for Chelsea and England. As football evolves, players like him are getting more and more valued. He’s a fantastic player.”

■ JOE COLE is a Football Analyst for BT Sport and can also be found trying his hand at acting in BT TV’S behind-thescenes video to celebrate its new range of flexible tv packages, for more informatio­n customers can visit www.bt.com/tv

LUCAS MOURA has spoken of his fears for his family in Brazil as the coronaviru­s crisis worsens.

The Tottenham forward is working on a personal fitness programme after the club last week called off first-team training until next month.

But in a “stay safe” message to fans yesterday he outlined his fears for his extensive family 6,000 miles away in Sao Paulo.

Moura said: “I speak to them every day, just saying the same things, to stay at home and to take care.

“Of course, I am worried about my parents because for older people, it’s worse.

“I think about them all the time.

“We need to stay positive, follow the rules and stay at home. I’m sure we will pass this and come back to normal.

“We need to stay safe, to follow the rules.”

 ??  ?? EASY SLIDER: Ross Barkley enjoys his FA Cup goal against Liverpool
TALKING THE TALK: Joe Cole at work as a football analyst for BT Sport
EASY SLIDER: Ross Barkley enjoys his FA Cup goal against Liverpool TALKING THE TALK: Joe Cole at work as a football analyst for BT Sport

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