The former Everton midfielder converted a superb free kick as Chelsea won 4-3 at Championship side Reading on Sunday to make it two goals in an impressive pre-season campaign – and revealed that new manager Frank Lampard has asked him to think like a striker.
England star Barkley, now 25, only scored five goals in all competitions last year under Maurizio Sarri, but actually only started 13 league games.
Chelsea somehow this season have to replace the 21 goals Hazard scored last term, and the burden looks set to have to be shared around, with midfielders like Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek when fit and Willian, all chipping in to help the strikers.
Barkley said: “I’m ready to take the responsibility. Of course. Last season when Eden wasn’t playing we still won games, still created chances.
“We know he is an exceptional player, but we have other exceptional players. We have youngsters that will step up and produce the goods.
“We have Callum Hudson Odoi coming back from injury and we have signed Christian Pulisic – an exceptional talent. We have wingers who can create from tight positions, players who can shoot from distance and strikers – young and experienced – who are hungry for goals.
“You have to fill in. Everyone in the squad understands that Eden was a great player, but he is gone. We have to replace his goals and create the chances. But we have that much quality in the squad we will all step up.”
As a player who came through the ranks at Everton, Barkley though is pleased to see Chelsea youngsters like Mason Mount – who scored twice against Reading – at last getting their chance at Stamford Bridge because of the transfer ban hanging over the club – even though it means more competition for places.
He said: “The likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason have scored goals in pre-season and you can see the hunger in them. I was exactly the same. I went out on loan and then got my chance at Everton. When you get your chance, you have to be ready and believe that you are going to step forward and produce.
“When you have that extra bit of quality, you can see the belief in them. The players that are getting a chance now are really confident lads. They believe that they’re meant to be here. You can see that in the training sessions and the games. They will get opportunities during the season and show what they’re capable of.”
Having a record goalscoring midfielder in Lampard as a manager also helps, he said: “Frank was one of my idols as a kid. Watching Match of the Day as a kid, I saw him every week scoring goals. Now he is our manager, it is brilliant. He’s got the respect from the players for the player he was and the person he is. Every day he is speaking to people giving them tips.
“At the minute I have been playing a bit further forward, having to think like a striker. He will help all the midfielders. He is a legend of the game, the highest goal-scoring midfielder in Premier League history, so we are going to take all he has to give us.”