Gerrard, who does the unthinkable in modern football of leaving a football club to join another in the summer, has carried the Reds for the past decade and Keown reckons that Barkley has strong enough shoulders to do the same job in future.
“One midfield star might be about to leave the red half of Merseyside but, if things continue as they are in the blue half, another could soon be on his way,” he said in his column for the Daily Mail.
“Ross Barkley is the closest thing we have to the new Steven Gerrard. He is still a long way from becoming the complete player who Gerrard is, but he has all the potential to be the leading player of his generation.
“The big problem is, can Everton keep pace with the growth of his talent?
“It would never be allowed to happen but Brendan Rodgers must be looking over the fence because Barkley is the perfect replacement for Gerrard.
“When I saw a young Barkley out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, I didn’t know why he wasn’t in the Everton first team. The first time he picked up the ball he surged forward, beat three players and pinged a pass with his left foot. Next time he did exactly the same with his right.
“If Everton continue to struggle, their best player could be prised away. They play Manchester City today, the fixture in which Barkley had his ‘Rooney moment’ last season — curling a wonder goal into the top corner.
“He is Everton’s next Rooney but, like his predecessor, unless the club gets back to where it was last year, holding onto Barkley could soon become an impossible task.”