Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 7/29/13
Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes teenager Ross Barkley can take the Premier League by storm this season. Barkley has only made a handful of appearances for the Toffees since turning professional in 2010 and has had loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United. However, Martinez has been impressed by the 19-year-old during their pre-season campaign and he continued his good form by setting up Everton's opening goal in Saturday's 3-1 win at Blackburn. "He is something special," Martinez told the Liverpool Echo . "In football when you describe a player, there are not many better descriptions than to say he's an incredible football diamond. "He's still a young man, and he needs to learn the players around him, but I'm excited to have that process with him. He has got an incredible talent. "You look at young players like Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley; they are at that level. "I am really pleased with his attitude, the way he listens and wants to learn. And when he is in full flow, he can be something special." While confident Barkley can make a positive impact in the Premier League, Martinez stressed that Everton need to find the right partnerships around the midfielder in order to help him realise his true potential. "Ross is such a talented boy, and has an incredible appreciation of space, that he can play in many positions," said Martinez. "Of course you want him as high up the pitch as you can because he can be lethal with his finishing ability. "But it is about finding the right partnerships around him. At the moment he is a young man who is still learning when to use his talent and when he needs to do things for the team. "The early signs have been really good and encouraging." It emerged earlier this summer that the Black Cats might be prepared to listen to offers for the 29-year-old Benin international, who only signed a new contract in August last year. However, despite speculation linking him with a series of clubs, no formal offers have materialised and Sessegnon insists his future lies on Wearside. He told the Sunderland Echo: "The speculation is okay, I have no problem with that. But I'm happy at Sunderland. "We have worked well in pre-season and hopefully we can continue like this. I'm enjoying it at Sunderland and my mind is for Sunderland now." Sessegnon initially arrived at the Stadium of Light in a £6million switch from Paris St Germain in January 2011 and at his best, looks every inch the player in which then manager Steve Bruce invested so heavily. However, inconsistency has been a problem and rumours that he could leave the club last summer did little to improve the situation. But Di Canio's recent shopping spree and a gruelling pre-season have left Sessegnon in optimistic mood ahead of the new campaign. He said: "It's a very important time, you need to have a pre-season. You need to do the hard work to start the season well. "I think that affected me during the first few months of last season, but this year is different because we have had a good pre-season with a lot of good players coming. "That's made everyone work hard in training and we have got a strong mentality too among the players. It looks good already for the start of the season." The former West Brom midfielder left Hereford at the end of last season where he scored six goals in 76 appearances during a spell spanning four seasons. Having also spent time in the Czech Republic playing for FC Fastav Zlin, the 24-year-old becomes Dean Smith's fifth signing, joining the likes of Milan Lalkovic and Troy Hewitt through the doors at the Banks's Stadium.
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