sport news Gareth Barry hopeful that James Rodriguez can help Everton close gap on Big Six

Gareth Barry has high hopes for Everton's new-look midfield, with the former Toffee hopeful that star signing James Rodriguez will bring the best out of his new team-mates as they look to close the gap on the Premier League's top teams. 

Carlo Ancelotti's side got off to a flyer in their season opener at Tottenham last weekend, with a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header enough to see off Jose Mourinho's side. 

The Italian fielded Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré, who all joined the club this summer, and the trio impressed and offered hope for Everton fans that they can pose a threat to the Big Six. 

Gareth Barry is hopeful that Everton's new-look midfield can help them challenge the top six

Gareth Barry is hopeful that Everton's new-look midfield can help them challenge the top six

Allan (C), James Rodriguez (L) and Abdoulaye Doucoure performed well in the opening day win

Allan (C), James Rodriguez (L) and Abdoulaye Doucoure performed well in the opening day win

And Barry, who retired from professional football earlier this summer after a 22-year career, feels that Ancelotti has made 'clever signings' in acquiring the midfielders.  

'Really clever signings. Ancelotti would have looked at last season and felt “where do we need to strengthen?” and I felt the same,' he told Sportsmail. 'They were maybe too soft through the centre so to bring in two players in similar positions in Doucoure and Allan tells a big story in itself. 

'Looking at the first game of the season they put in fantastic performances and as a unit really made the team solid. The star signing, James Rodriguez, settled in straight away too and he’s going to bring that extra quality that you’re going to need to compete with the big teams.'

Rodriguez joined from Real Madrid and has been hailed as an 'X-factor signing' by Barry

Rodriguez joined from and has been hailed as an 'X-factor signing' by Barry

The 29-year-old settled quickly and was up for the hustle and bustle of the Premier League

The 29-year-old settled quickly and was up for the hustle and bustle of the Premier League

Everton have splashed the case in recent seasons but in Rodriguez, they may have the calibre of player to take them to the next level. Barry spoke glowingly of the Colombian who is looking to get his career back on track after a turbulent spell in the Spanish capital.

'He is that real star, X-factor signing, if you like, that will excite not just Everton fans but Premier League fans,' he continued. 

'They’re the players that we love to see in this league. He’s seemed to settle in

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