CHELSEA midfielder Ross Barkley is “getting to the level” of Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of his professionalism off the pitch.
That is the verdict of Manchester United legend turned Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.
Barkley has enjoyed life under Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea so far this season.
The England international joined the Blues from Everton in January but only made four appearances in all competitions in the second half of the campaign.
He has already featured 11 times this term and scored his first Chelsea goal in the 3-0 win over Southampton on Sunday.
Barkley’s lack of game time at Chelsea last season meant he was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad that reached the World Cup semi-final.
However, Neville believes that has spurred him on and claims the 24-year-old is now showing the standards of the likes of Juventus star Ronaldo in his preparation.
“I think the World Cup would have helped him,” Neville said.
“He was listening to the World Cup and every commentator, everyone talking about England, were saying we need somebody to unlock the door, somebody who can play in the final third, somebody who can do that something a little bit different.
“He will have been sat there at home thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here? How am I not in that squad?’.
“Actually I was over at the World Cup and saw his Instagram account in pre-season training and he looked ripped. He looked like he’d been prepared for pre-season.
“He loves his football, he’s a good lad, but has he been really serious like the really top professionals?
“If you think of Cristiano Ronaldo at the very top of in terms of ‘he looks after himself’.
“He’s getting to that level now, he looks a lot more serious about the game.
“I think he’s getting the rewards for it.”
Barkley has been rewarded for his form by being named in the England squad for the upcoming Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.
The Three Lions play away at Croatia this Friday before travelling to Spain next Monday.