That is the opinion of Jermaine Jenas.
The 24-year-old made just two Premier League appearances in his first season at Chelsea due to injuries but has blossomed under Maurizio Sarri.
The Italian tactician has trusted Barkley with the most advanced midfield role in a central three with the player’s form earning an England recall last week as he hopes for a first cap since May 2016.
The former Everton youngster produced his best performance of the season yet at St Mary’s, scoring one and providing another as Chelsea stretched their unbeaten run to eight games with a 3-0 win to move joint top of the table.
Sarri said of his performance: “I am really happy with him because from the beginning he has improved day-by-day, week-by-week. He has quality, very important qualities. He will become a very important player in England and for the England national team.”
Barkley became the first English Chelsea player to score and assist in the same game since club legend Frank Lampard in December 2013 and saw his efforts widely praised with Match of the Day 2 pundit Jenas noting his increasing confidence.
“I don’t think Sarri would be putting him in the position – ahead of players like [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek who has had a World Cup for England – if he didn’t believe in him and didn’t think that he can fit into the system the way he wants him to,” Jenas said.
“I think he’s took his time since arriving at Chelsea but what I really liked about his performance and what he’s lacked at time was kind of making decisions himself, taking shots on from 25 yards.
“We know he’s got that, [but] be more aggressive in midfield rather than do those nice things, getting on the ball and passing five yards or 10 yards; that’s easy in a Chelsea team.
“Today what I liked, I thought he had an impact on the side, he played his role. We’ve spoken about Jorginho since he arrived and Kovacic and we know what Fabregas and Kante can do.
“I thought it was a good moment for Ross Barkley to show what he can do as a midfield player for Chelsea, he deserved his goal and then he started to show more elements of flair, getting the ball in dangerous areas, having a bit more tenacity about his play.
“Another thing we’re starting to see is players reacting off him, knowing having worked with him for a longer period, that they’re going to get ball and deliveries into space.
“It was a very productive afternoon for Barkley and a positive step for England and his career.”
Jenas’ fellow pundit Alan Shearer believes Barkley is benefitting from playing consistently in one single position.
He added: “What’s always been the problem with Ross, besides having from serious injuries, is what’s his best position?
“Was it a holding midfield role, sitting in as the 10? The penny might have dropped with him also that he understands the game more now and what’s required of him to be successful in a successful team.
“It seems to be happening but he’s also playing with better players now. He’s bound to shine now and also he looks a lot fitter now than he has done.
“He’s 24 years of age. He should start now to understand the game more.”