Everton manager Roberto Martinez has talked up the importance of young midfielder Ross Barkley after he put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with the Merseyside outfit.
Barkley shot to prominence last season for the Toffees under Martinez and has subsequently been rewarded with fresh terms at Goodison Park.
The 20-year-old netted six goals last season and was handed a call-up to the England squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
The midfielder made his debut for Everton at the beginning of the 2011-12 season and had loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United before becoming a regular fixture.
Martinez has spoken very highly of the player and believes the new deal shows the club are moving in the right direction by protecting their prized assets.
Martinez said: “It is a four-year deal which reflects his new role and his development. This is as big news as we could get.
“He is still a young man but is a massive part of our squad.”
The England international admitted that it was a “dream” to be handed new terms as he looks to continue his development with the club he joined as an 11-year-old.
Barkley said: “I’ve played for Everton most of my life. This is a big thing for me.”
Everton have also signed midfielders Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic this summer, while Martinez himself agreed a five-year extension to his contract after the Spaniard enjoyed a successful first campaign.